Gather ’round Bulls fans.

Derrick Rose is making his long-awaited return to the Bulls lineup and he figures to be a critical component for their success this season.

We have all heard this before, haven’t we? The prodigal son of Chicago coming back from injury after an extended absence? Well, here it is on the third go-around. The Bulls face off against the Orlando Magic tonight in Orlando and will have Rose active and starting for the first time in 20 games after the 26 year-old had knee surgery on February 27. That knee surgery was the third for Rose in the past four years and the former NBA MVP’s return certainly will provide a spark for the team as well as the city of Chicago who have had their ups and downs within the Rose era that began with the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Rose won Rookie of the Year in 2008-2009 and nearly led his team to a first round upset of the defending champion Celtics, falling in seven games. In 2009-2010 Rose made his first All-Star team and in 2010-2011 it all came together as the team put together 62 wins and a number one seed. They would be knocked off by Year 1 of Lebron James’ Miami Heat. Rose won MVP after this season. In the first game of the 2011-2012 playoffs, Rose tore his ACL thus beginning the aforementioned downs. The eighth-seeded 76ers knocked off the top-seeded Bulls after Rose’s departure just as the team and its fans knew their star would be out the normal 8-12 months required for a torn ACL. The Bulls brought Rose back – to put it gently – without haste. That 8-12 months stretched out to 18. He sat out the entire 2012-2013 season and if it weren’t for an otherworldly effort by Nate Robinson, would have entered the presumably healthy 2013-2014 season on a team with no playoff series victories since the 2011 playoffs. Last year, in his grandest and most advertised comeback, Rose tore his meniscus on November 22 after playing in just 10 games, ending his season. Now we are here: after playing 46 games with various inactives sprinkled in and a knee surgery, Rose is returning tonight.

Will we continue to see him shoot 40.7% from the field and 28.7% from 3? Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Let’s concern ourselves with the health of millions rather than one. How much more hope can such a recently-revived and thoroughly devoted fan base have, before it is completely destroyed? I fear for the well-being of so many who are accustomed to the heroics of Jordan and Pippen, but have placed their trust in a possible walking piece of glass. This scene from The Dark Knight Rising is a great parallel. Bane says, “There can be no true despair without hope.” My intentions were to put relevant closed captions over Bane and Bruce Wayne’s conversation, but I don’t have those capabilities (I have a script, if anyone wants to help), but if you watch and pretend Wayne is the city of Chicago/Bulls fans and Bane is Rose, you’ll get the gist.

His returns are more celebrated than the games themselves. The constant hope of something better that he can potentially bring for the Bulls is what makes his falls that much more heartbreaking and full of, you guessed it, despair. For a man that constantly needs gas pumped into his face, Bane has a point. Rose may never miss another game in his life, but with three bad knee injuries before the pinnacle of his career, it might be in the best interests of fans and the organization to quell their expectations before another injury occurs. Maybe put those hopes toward a total rebuild and fresh start or the signing of an established free agent when the market is saturated with them. Or, who knows? Maybe put those expectations towards the Bears and see what happens. 🙂

Edit: 9:26 PM CST Magic 105 – Bulls 103 Final
Rose finishes with 9 points on 3 of 9 from the field and 1 of 6 from deep. 4 turnovers, 2 assists, 2 boards, 1 steal