CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls lays on the floor aftrer suffering an injury against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 28, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 103-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I thought I got it all out on Saturday when it came to Derrick Rose's injury (guh, tough to even type it) and Thibodeau's role in it. To summarize: He's not to blame, but Thibodeau does have a role in both this single instance of risking Rose in a decided contest, and a season of minutes management specifically with those coming back from injury.
But while this series will go on with CJ Watson as the starting point guard, nothing like reaction-to-the-reaction to make me re-react. Some like myself, Alex, and Matt McHale over at Bulls By the Horns saw it as an unnecessary risk, that's all. It's not a statement on when all games (even playoff games) are truly decided, it's keeping this particular player in this particular game. It was unnecessary given that Rose has been battling injury all season, and especially for the past 7 weeks. In that time he hadn't played a full game where he looked completely well, and as we know re-injured himself several times. This was a special, delicate situation.
So Thibodeau's initial defense of 'injuries happen' rang hollow. I get the team defending the decision, though Lucas said post-game "we had the game already won", and Rip Hamilton answered a question (sorry, it's edited out of the current nba.com video) about his own sitting the 4th being no matter because the game was out of reach. And similarly why management is backing Thibs as well. That's their job to get in line still working towards a single goal, and credit them for it.
But while they need to rush in their mindset to 'move forward', it's completely valid to still question what happened, and be concerned over this organization's handling of Rose this season.
Kelly Dwyer immediately 'absolved' Thibodeau, and I've read this post at PippenAintEasy as well as another (more unhinged) one at ThankYouIsiah backing Thibs' in saying that this injury was completely random, and unforeseen. Now if that's reaction to those saying Thibs should be fired, then the motivation is sound: that's not what I'd consider a reasonable outcome of this. I want Thibs to be the coach of the Bulls, as even if this is a flaw in his methods he brings amazing positives alongside it. But, to me, it's nearly as irresponsible to write this off as a freak occurance and not question further, even if it makes you feel bad. To address those last two links specifically: yes, 'society' (what-ever) often needs someone to blame, but they just as often like to throw up their hands and lean on fate and other uncontrollable factors, too.
Is it possible this particular injury to Rose was completely random and unavoidable? Yes. Though if we're playing the no-blame game, you can say It's also possible Derrick Rose's body simply can't match up with his style of play, which doesn't seem like a encouraging conclusion to jump to either. My admittedly fake-doctor suggestion Saturday was that it's possible that a player who's had weeks of lower-body injuries and not used to playing full NBA games just might be at higher risk for something like this. I don't think that can be dismissed.
KC Johnson did some work with a real doctor on this very question:
With Rose and the' both tearing anterior cruciate ligaments on Saturday, many rushed to judge the compacted, 66-game schedule born from the lockout. But those two injuries raised this season's total to four torn ACLs. Over the last five 82-game seasons, the league has averaged 4.8.
"Everybody's data, not just ours, shows this version of ACL-injury - non-contact - is an injury of explosion. It's essentially violence you're committing on your own knee," said Dr. David Altchek, who has overseen clinical trials and published research relating to ACL injuries in his work for the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
"Both Rose and Shumpert are slashing, driving, explosive-type players, not lumbering, post-up-type players. It has nothing to do with wear and tear. You don't gradually wear out your ACL. So the overly compressed schedule, I can't really see any way that relates to this specific injury. It could possibly relate to other injuries, but not really to the ACL."
Altchek also said Rose's previous five injuries didn't contribute.
"We haven't seen the ACL correlated with other predisposed injuries like ankles or hamstrings," he said. "If your ankle isn't healed, you can't load up enough to plant and push off that hard. If you had taken an MRI of Derrick's knee the day before, it would've been totally normal."
Now maybe I'm incorrect, but the real doctor here is speaking more in generalities when saying that there's no proven correlation. And I'm not sure if he misinterpreted this scenario or not, because he's saying that injuries to the same leg would make it hard to provide enough 'explosion' to blow out the ACL. But as KC remarked right afterwards, the other injuries were on Rose's right leg. So a theory that Rose have been overcompensating with the other leg doesn't seem dismissible, even if it hasn't shown a correlation and can't be proven in this instance.
And it can't be proven. The doc didn't get to see an MRI of Rose's ACL pre-game. I was forwarded (thanks @acgrinho) this official-looking study from an official-looking place suggesting that an ACL tear can have something to do with fatigue. I'd imagine that this, and what's in this field all the time, doesn't lend itself to absolute conclusions.
But Thibodeau is not on trial for the murder of Derrick Rose's leg, and we don't need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to question his role in the injury. Or that of management's. Or even Rose himself, if he was misleading the team and their medical staff in an effort to get back on the court. They may all have a role in this, or none of them do, but it's worth finding out more about what happened this year and what can be done better. Because next year, Derrick Rose will be coming back from injury. I hope they don't have an "injuries happen" mindset for that comeback.