Joakim Noah still has a vivid memory of Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the 76ers. Rose called it "the closest thing to death." But judging by how Noah described it, the moment was even more traumatic for him.
Rose's ACL tear
With minutes left in the fourth quarter, despite Chicago being up by 12, Tom Thibodeau decided to keep Rose on the floor. But instead of closing the series opener, the youngest MVP in NBA history went down with a knee injury, ruining the Bulls' championship chances after securing the top seed in the regular season. Looking back on it, Noah has no doubt -- that was supposed to be their year.
"We really believed we were gonna win that championship," Noah said. "That was our time. Derrick represented that much hope. Every time he stepped onto the court, we had the most special player in the world. That's a lot of hope to carry on one person."
Up until that moment, Rose was able to carry that hope. He was good enough to lead the Bulls to their first NBA championship since the Michael Jordan era. But as faith would have it, one awkward landing with 1:20 left on the game clock shut the door on it.
The Bulls went on to win the game but ended up losing the series against the Sixers. However, they lost much more when MRI confirmed ACL tear in Rose's left knee. And the moment he heard the news, Noah was in shock. Almost a decade later, he still remembers what that felt like.
When I found out Derrick tore his ACL, I remember the smells, who I was with, everything. I had the same feeling of when I saw the plane hit the tower [on Sept. 11, 2001]. People will be like, 'He's crazy for saying that.' No. I'm telling you how I felt.
Joakim Noah, ESPN
"Where were you when it happened?"
Let's not take the comparison literally -- the magnitudes of both events are incomparable. But Noah hyperbolizing his experience speaks to the level of despair Rose's injury caused. And while most wouldn't describe it the way Joakim did, Derrick's ACL tear had the same effect on everyone else within the organization. The same goes for every NBA fan across the globe.
Most people remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard about the World Trade Center attack. But most NBA fans also remember when they were and what they were doing when they heard about Derrick Rose's ACL tear.
Joakim Noah sure does, and judging by how he described it, no one took the news as hard as he.