1 of 11
|Magglio Ordonez ››|
The Chicago Bulls have the NBA's most valuable player in Derrick Rose. But the franchise's true MVP will now be the doctor who wields the surgical instruments that reconstruct Rose's left knee, which was shredded in the Bulls' victory over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday. Though the franchise likes to portray itself as a lunch-bucket brigade heavily dependent on its so-called Bench Mob, the Bulls are perhaps the league's best example of killing the snake by lopping off its head. And be sure of this: Without Rose, the Bulls have just about literally lost their head.
Naturally, the basketball aficionados dispute this. Coach Tom Thibodeau diagnosed Rose's torn ACL as "a death sentence" neither for Rose nor the team. Opposing coach Doug Collins dared not second-guess that assessment, surmising, "Where it might change the dynamics, they're going to hang their hats on defense and rebounding and things they're going to have to do to make up for his absence." And first-team NBA loudmouth Joakim Noah intoned, "Regardless of what happens, we're a capable group." Try selling that in Las Vegas. Immediately after Rose's knee gave way, so did the oddsmakers' enthusiasm, the odds on a Bulls NBA title skyrocketing from 7-2 to 15-2.
Of course, the Bulls are not the first team whose championship hopes were derailed by an injury to a star player. Though not as severe as a torn ACL, Magic Johnson pulled a hamstring in the 1989 NBA Finals. Instead of the Lakers winning their third straight title, they lost four in a row to the Pistons. The Cincinnati Bengals had 2006 Super Bowl hopes after they won the AFC North, but they ended quickly when quarterback Carson Palmer's knee was destroyed by Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen. Not only were the Bengals eliminated 31-17 in the first round, the sixth-seeded Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl. A lower-profile disaster happened to the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals when center David Krejci was knocked out of the playoffs when he dislocated his right wrist in Game 3. Krejci had four goals and four assists in nine playoff games, and his loss helped the Flyers overcome a 3-0 deficit and win the series.
Such championship-killing injuries are hard to watch and, for the victimized team, harder to take. But now the Bulls figure to learn why it's never good to be on the list of the Top 10 Most Devastating Playoff Injuries.
|Magglio Ordonez ››|