In Chicago, they are confused and resentful, bordering on angry. Not at the activated, overtaxed Bulls players and their overwhelmed coaches for getting eliminated from the NBA play-offs by the Miami Heat.
Deep down, fans cannot help but want to heap blame on Derrick Rose, who played nary a second.His infuriating post-season routine: practice between games, sit cuffed to the bench during them, even though he was medically cleared for duty in March after a year-old torn ACL.
They try to withhold judgment, aware timetables for recovery are imprecise. They know not everyone is like NFL star Adrian Peterson, who hit the field nine months after ACL surgery.
They want to grant Rose the benefit of doubt. They would like to believe that physical and mental recovery can proceed at different paces. They recognise that a player whose excellence is rooted in bursts of speed needs a fairer re-entry point than the crucible of the play-offs.
But they measure Rose against his teammates. Joakim Noah playing on a painful foot, flu-ridden Nate Robinson vomiting during timeouts, Luol Deng apologising profusely for his absence with a disease that required hospitalisation and stole 15 pounds off him.
Without further evidence, let us convict Rose - and team management - of the lesser charge of obfuscation. Instead of declaring him out, they treated his possible return as day-to-day, alternately raising and dashing hopes of a tortured fan base. In hindsight, it is clear Rose never intended to play. Their handling of the situation was as off-target as an air ball.
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