Now a year and a half since Derrick Rose played in his last regular-season NBA game, Chicago Bulls fans should absolutely be worried by him sitting out a game, as he did Saturday in Rio. But in the same breath they should realize that knee soreness isn't a completely surprising occurrence for an elite athlete trying to recover from ACL surgery. Rose said as much after practice on Monday.
"I'm fine with (people asking about my knee), man," Rose said. "It's just something I've got to deal with. Does it get irritating? Sometimes, but I had the injury and it's something all of us have to go through.”
Fans can argue all day about whether or not Rose should have come back last season after being medically cleared to play, but that isn't going to change what's happening at the moment. Rose made his decision and now he and the Bulls have to deal with the day-to-day distractions that will come throughout the year whenever the former MVP's knee is sore.
"That's the reality of the way things are," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau begrudgingly admitted on Monday.
No matter how many times Rose or the Bulls come out this season and say Rose's knee is fine, the only thing that will calm doubters down is Rose doing what he did before the injury -- dominating games. The key is for Rose to be able to do it on a consistent basis. Until he does, any time he goes to the rim, or winces in pain, or misses a game for any reason, fans will -- and should -- be worried by what is going on with his knee.
After all, as the city of Chicago has learned over the past couple of years: If Rose goes down, the Bulls' championship hopes go down with him.
Nick Friedell is a reporter for ESPNChicago.com.