It’s kind of a shame to start off like this.
Down and out.
And just when things were getting so good.
Derrick Rose, the jersey #1 Chicago Bulls player lying on the ground clutching his left knee and grimacing like his whole world has just gone to shit, is one of my favorite players in the NBA.
His play is fast, aggressive, kind of jumpy like his feet are made of little springs, but still exceptionally calculated. It’s no surprise Derrick Rose was the 2009 rookie of the year. And by the way, did mention his handles are CRAZY?
I consider Derrick Rose one of my heroes because every time he talks about his career so far, he’s humble, sure, and you can almost always get a glimpse of how hard he’s worked and the sacrifices he’s put in to get where he is. So when he went down in the 2011-2012 playoff’s, I joined the rest of the NBA Fam in that collective feeling that life did him wrong. Robbed our man D. Rose of a possibly spectacular second MVP season.
We all feel connected to our heroes somehow. We see something about us in them, good or bad, and we think, ‘hey, if they can make it, so can I’. With D. Rose, I felt that if he can make the sacrifices, so can I. But I’m about to connect with him on a whole other level right now.
When I went down, the first thing I felt was wasted. For the first time in a while, I was putting in the work to get where I wanted to go, only for my body to retaliate and say, ‘Not today! Just take a seat son’. Second, I too was on the brink of something, small as it was. I thought that I was going to make the college season MINE. Show the coach and the team that I’ve got something to add to the game. And third, I also injured my left knee. So that picture up there, is exactly what I looked like when I went down.
I just lay there, clutching my left knee and grimacing like my whole world just went to shit.
I felt like life did me wrong too.
Robbed me of a possibly spectacular ‘rookie’ season with the college team.
It didn’t make sense, why now? Why when I was working for it? But all I got from those kinds of questions was a week-long depression. I had to start figuring out how to get back.
The first couple of days after the injury were a little strange. It felt weird to wake up 6am and not go to training. To leave class in evening and not have to rush to the court. Everything was completely out of sync. Mentally I was ready to go, but if I knew if didn’t take a break, things could get a lot worse.
My recovery was up to the physiotherapist. With an injury this bad, I was totally out of my depth. I didn’t bother asking how long I would be out, I could already tell it would be over a month, and I knew hearing someone confirm the numbers would make me feel even worse. So instead I asked whether I could keep up some light drills and take a few shots every other day to avoid dampening my skills over the next 4-6 weeks. But he gave me one serious look and said:
“No running. No jumping.”
“You’re joking right? I play basketball, those are literally the only two things I’m required to do.”
“If you want to get better, stay off the court.”
At that point I seriously started to consider if I was stuck in some next-level nightmare.
The first two weeks were the hardest. Limping all over and bumming around the sports complex until the physiotherapist showed up to do… well, physiotherapy.
But finally things picked up a notch. I got sent over to the strength and conditioning coach for… you guessed it, strength and conditioning. The main problem with my knee was that my legs weren’t strong enough. I hadn’t spent enough time in the gym before the pre-season, and strength and conditioning came in to fix exactly that.
The exciting part about strength and conditioning was that it put me back on a regime. I had certain exercises I had to do every couple of days to strengthen my knee. And the next thing I knew I was in familiar territory. Recovering from an injury is just like preparing for the season. It has a schedule, stages and a routine that all require discipline and patience. You set your goal as getting better, and you go for it.
Even though I couldn’t play yet, I managed to find a purpose again.
Derrick Rose has been through a number of injuries and always made it back. But the ACL tear to his left knee was by far the worst. But that didn’t stop him. He made it back again and put his heart out on the court in every game. As quick and aggressive as he is on the court, he kept his discipline, and literally SAT through the patience needed to prepare himself.
Discipline and patience.
That’s what makes him one of my basketball heroes, and why I can relate to him at a time like this. Both of those things are exactly what I need to fix whatever it is I did to my knee, and get back to kicking ass, and fading away…
Okay, I’m bluffing on that last one. I can’t hit a fade-away shot… Yet.