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Derrick Rose vs. Michael Jordan: The Two Injuries that Defined the Chicago Bulls Franchise


Playing NBA basketball means playing the game at its highest level. It takes massive talent, a huge amount of hard work, and dedication to your craft to be able to keep up with the other players – but sometimes, it also takes a bit of luck. All it takes is just one wrong move and a split second to sustain a potentially career-ending injury on the NBA courts. Many players through the years have gone through the pain of experiencing a gruesome injury – and while some of them pulled off amazing comebacks, others never quite managed to recover completely. And perhaps no other team has been tormented by its players’ injuries as much as the Chicago Bulls have.

Derrick Rose was never the same after his knee injuries

Perhaps one of the most devastating career-defining injuries in the recent history of the sport was the ACL tear and the multiple knee injuries suffered by none other than the great Derrick Rose. Chosen by his hometown Chicago Bulls as the first overall draft pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Rose was the franchise’s shot at restoring its legacy and paving the way to a new dynasty. It all seemed to work at the start. The insanely talented Rose even gave players like LeBron a run for their money as he dominated the court and was widely regarded as a rising superstar.

Rose was quickly named Rookie of the Year and MVP in 2011 – the youngest player ever to win the accolade at age 22. But in 2012, during the first playoffs round against the Philadelphia 76ers, he landed awkwardly and tore his left knee ACL, causing him to miss the rest of the season and the whole 2012-2013 season. When he returned for the 2013-2014 regular season, he managed to play just a couple of games before injuring his right knee and, again, missing the whole season and all but 30 games of the 2014-2015 season.

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The Bulls never quite recovered from missing their star player – after all, they had signed a five-year contract with him in 2011 that was 30% of their total salary cap, under what had been dubbed as the “Derrick Rose Rule.” Cutting their losses, they traded the talented but injury-plagued Rose to the Knicks in 2016-2017. Rose eventually recovered and even scored a career-high 50 points in the 2018-2019 season playing for the Timberwolves. He is now making history for the Pistons, those who know him best say that he was never entirely on the same level of explosive, creative, talented playing after his multiple injuries. While he is undoubtedly a great player, it is no coincidence that he has changed teams every year since leaving the Bulls.

Michael Jordan: an almost career-defining early injury

Michael Jordan is widely considered the GOAT among fans and analysts. And while some would argue it is a futile attempt to search for a GOAT in the game that produced the likes of Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and LeBron James, Jordan’s career was probably the most defining for the NBA, catapulting its popularity across the globe. Yet right before he started winning back-to-back championships, Jordan’s career was almost cut short by a severe left foot injury.

Playing in only his second season in the NBA, Jordan had already made a name for himself as a promising player that had the potential to transform the ailing Chicago Bulls franchise – just as he would go on to do. But during the second quarter of a game against the Warriors, Jordan landed the wrong way and fractured a bone in his left foot – MJ was immediately rushed off the court. Everyone who was invested in the young rising star knew what this could potentially mean. Injuries can make or break not only careers but also a team’s chances at winning games and titles. That is why it is one of the key factors taken into account by seasoned fans and analysts in NBA betting, and sometimes the odds of a particular game might be pulled off the board entirely or have reduced limits after news breaks of an injury to a star player.

Luckily for the Bulls, that wasn’t the case with Jordan. Even though it took some convincing by the front desk to make him sit out several games in order to recover – which the recent “The Last Dance” documentary covered in detail – Jordan was able to return in full. Thanks to his hard work and determination to overcome his injury, he became one of the most dominant players in NBA history. His story went in the opposite direction of D-Rose’s – who many believed to be the rightful successor to MJ for the Bulls.

Injuries seem to be intertwined with the Bulls’ history – and the team’s name somehow always finds its way on the tables that list current injuries in the NBA. From Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoč to Tyson Chandler and the motorcycle accident injuries that all but ended the promising career of a young Jay Williams, injuries have always defined the franchise’s trajectory. And in the case of Derrick Rose, probably stole another Bulls dynasty away.

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