Portland

Damian Lillard is not a lot of things.  He was not highly recruited out of high school and he was not a major college player.  He’s not a 2014 FIBA World Cup winner, cialis or a 2016 NBA All Star.  He’s not a member of Nike’s elite, order and he’s not Steph Curry or Kobe Bryant.  So how is it possible that Damian Lillard is the talk of the NBA in early March, post trade deadline and headed into crunch time before the playoffs?

Because Portland.  You might see a woman walking her turtle on a leash down Pearl St. and you might catch an angry Damian Lillard dropping 51 on Golden State. Where zip off cargo pants and gluten free bread reign supreme, and a carpet can be the grand marshal of a parade, the Blazers are overcoming meager expectations and audacious snubs to do their part to keep things weird in the NBA.  I guess we shouldn’t even be that surprised.

So how did we get here?  The Blazers weren’t supposed to be good.  Lillard struggled down the stretch last season only to watch LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez leave in free agency and trades.  On draft night, the Blazers were poised to be absent of any big men this season and due to pay Lillard max money over the summer without the feeling that he had certain future All-Star potential.

But 2016 hasn’t gone as planned, in a good way.  A rebuild turned resurgence when Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh headed West in the Nicholas Batum trade bolstering the Blazer bench.  CJ McCollum has emerged as the NBA’s most improved player, Meyers Leonard plays with confidence behind the arc, and angry Damian Lillard has come to define clutch in a very raw Steph Curry kind of way, averaging 30 and 8 in the month of February.   Instead of 30 wins and a front row seat at the Draft Lottery in June, the youthful, “long term potential” Blazers have 33 wins with 6 weeks left in the season, a firm grip on a playoff spot and a very heavy bandwagon.

And I totally get it.  I might even join it.  Next season when the Bulls streak of giving up 100 points has hit 50, you might see me in PDX Carpet Adidas, covering my compost pile, and pretending to know why they call it #RipCity.  Regardless, it’s fair to say that things are staying weird in Portland for a while, and I’m not mad about it.

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via @bballforeverfb

Here we go again. The Chicago Bulls endured the absolute worst case of deja vu Friday night in Portland as Derrick Rose left the game on crutches with another knee injury. On Saturday the star point guard had a MRI on his right knee that confirmed he has a tear in his medial meniscus, treatment needs surgery to repair the tear and is out indefinitely.

The injury occurred on a non-contact play in the third quarter of the Bulls’ 98-95 loss to the Trail Blazers. Rose couldn’t put any weight on his right leg and was assisted back into the locker room.

Seeing Rose on crutches again honestly breaks my heart into a million little Bulls-fan pieces. Bulls fans have been down this road before and expected the worst.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon refreshing Twitter and RSS feeds just waiting for the Bulls to release the official news on DRose’s injury and to put us out of our misery.  When it was finally announced on Saturday afternoon that Rose has a meniscus tear, the reactions were consistent: not as serious as an ACL injury, but a serious injury that will take at LEAST a few months to rehab.

Is this for real? Is Chicago basketball being punked by the basketball gods? DRose spent an entire year off the court rehabbing his left knee after tearing his ACL in April of 2012. Despite a shaky start to the regular season, Rose was finally finding his explosive rhythm again (he had 20 points before leaving the game against the Trail Blazers) and then BAM one knee buckle and we’ve lost him again.

The entire situation is heartbreaking. Will this second knee injury take a toll on Rose’s confidence? It was just on Thursday that he filled out eight-year-old Skye Vaughn’s handwritten magic marker report card and gave himself straight A’s.

So now what?

In the short term, Rose is back in Chicago undergoing surgery and his teammates have to yet again make due without their star player on the court. Kirk Hinrich will start at point guard while Rose is recovering – let’s hope Captain Kirk can stay healthy himself. Most importantly the Bulls need more offense. Now would be a really great time for Carlos Boozer to have the best season of his career. Can we persuade Nate-Rob to ditch the Denver Nuggets and come back to the Bulls? I wish things were that easy.

In the long term the Bulls are looking at the bigger picture. Derrick Rose is the franchise player of the Chicago Bulls. He’s the centerpiece of the team. Don’t expect the Bulls or Rose to rush this second recovery. We could potentially see him back on the court in time for the playoffs, but things are trickier now. The MVP will have two reconstructed knees. If you push him back too quickly and he tweaks one of his surgically repaired knees he could ruin his entire career.

With Rose in uniform the Bulls are a championship contender. Without Rose, the Bulls are still a good team in a weak Eastern Conference, but wouldn’t be able to shutout the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers. We’re going to stick with our guys and see how this season plays out.

Get well soon DRose, we miss your handsome face and explosive moves already.

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