CHICAGO – Looking back on it is painful for anyone who has a rooting interest in the former Simeon High School star or the Chicago Bulls.
But what happened on April 28, 2012 had a major impact on both and changed the trajectory of a player and an era. Some could consider the most devastating in-competition injury in Chicago sports history.
At the end of Game 1 of the Bulls’ first round series against the Sixers, Derrick Rose landed awkwardly executing a jump pass in the lane and went down with a torn ACL in his left knee. The reigning NBA MVP appeared to have a serious injury right away he limped towards the baseline and eventually laid down on the ground.
A hush fell over the United Center crowd as players started on in disbelief as athletic trainers began to check on Rose’s injury. For a moment, an “MVP, MVP” chant rose up from the crowd, but things quickly quieted when the guard failed to get up.
Eventually, Rose was helped to his feet and helped off by athletic trainers to the locker room as the stunned Bulls would finish the final moments of a victory over the Philadelphia. The prognosis of a torn ACL hadn’t been made right away, but his teammates knew immediately something was wrong when speaking to the media after the game.
“It might be one of the saddest wins, ever,” said forward Carlos Boozer, who was one of the first to notice Rose was down on the floor, committing a foul to stop the game, and then pointing to his injured teammate down the floor.
Boozer would run down the floor to check on Rose along with Joakim Noah, who was equally as heartbroken in the locker room.
“He’s more than just a basketball player to me. I consider Derrick like a little brother,” said Noah of Rose. “To see him hurting is never good.”
There was good reason for the Bulls to feel the way they did since that era was never quite the same after that. A team that made the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals would never advance that far again while Rose would never reach the level he was at before the injury again.
The Sixers would got on to win the series in six games with Rose on the sidelines and the guard would miss the entire next season as well. That year the Bulls pressed onto the Eastern Conference Semifinals before losing to the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.
On October 5. 2013, Rose played in his first game since the injury in an exhibition against the Pacers in Indianapolis and would play ten games that season before another ailment took him out of the lineup. A torn meniscus in his right knee would put another end to his season. The Bulls would lose in the first round to the Wizards that season.
Rose and the Bulls would have one last gasp in the era in 2014-2015 as they won 50 games and grabbed a 2-1 Eastern Conference Semifinal lead over the Cavaliers on a memorable bank-in three-pointer as time expired in a win at the United Center.
But Cleveland would eliminate the Bulls in six games, head coach Tom Thibodeau was fired, and Rose would be traded after the next season. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and Gar Forman would start a rebuild in 2017, and its failure to bring progress led to the end of their era in 2020.
Meanwhile Rose has had a few stops since his trade in 2017, playing with the Knicks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Pistons, then in New York again the past year-and-a-half with Thibodeau. This past season he played in 26 games, averaging 12 points and four assists per contest.
Larry Hawley looked back at this painful yet impactful moment in Chicago sports history in this #WGNTBT, and you can see that in the video above.