City of Chicago Hurting

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Mother Nature will decide over the next few days whether this February will go down as one of the coldest in Chicago history.

To the city’s sports fans, it officially became one of the cruelest Tuesday night.

The surreal news release came from the Bulls at 9:38 p.m., words that had to be read twice to be believed: “Derrick Rose reported today with right knee pain. An exam and subsequent MRI confirmed a medial meniscus tear of the right knee. Surgery will be scheduled, after which a timeline for his return will be determined.”

All over the town, jaws dropped and stomachs turned as shock slowly settled in. Huh?

This couldn’t be. No. Way. Not D-Rose. Not again. No athlete deserves three surgeries in three years, let alone a former MVP playing in his hometown. No matter how many bizarre things Rose said on the record, at least he was on the floor. No matter how crazy Rose drove you with his recent nonchalance or how many bricks he laid from 3-point range, as long as he was driving to the basket in good health, the Bulls had a chance to think NBA title.

Now what are we to think about the Bulls’ chances? (Not much.) What are we to make of Rose’s future after a second surgery on the same right knee repaired in 2013? (Iffier than ever.) Wasn’t Patrick Kane’s injury enough angst for one night in the city? (Absolutely.)

Two hours before the Bulls dropped the bombshell about Rose, Kane left the Blackhawks game against the Panthers at the United Center after getting cross-checked by the Panthers’ Alex Petrovic – or, Public Enemy No. 1 on your hockey programs. Kane fell awkwardly into the boards and appeared to injure his left wrist or left shoulder, described only as an “upper-body injury” by the team. He did not return in the Hawks’ 3-2 shootout victory and speculation surrounds the timetable of Kane’s recovery. As Chelsea Dagger played and fans cheered a victory the team desperately needed, the celebration was muted by the fear of the unknown concerning Kane.

“Looks like he might miss some time,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”

Teammate Kris Versteeg sounded like he knew more Tuesday night when he spoke to CSN.

“We’re ticked off when the best player in the league gets hurt,” Versteeg said. “It’s going to be an uphill battle without him.”

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel thought he had a bad day.

The Bulls without Rose will stay competitive, win games they shouldn’t and surprise folks with their effort and intensity. They more likely will morph into the try-hard team they were the last two seasons without Rose, the team coach Tom Thibodeau has proven he can win with but hardly a team that figures to compete for the Eastern Conference title.

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