“As quick as everybody loves you, people can forget about you — I watched Kirk Hinrich get drafted from my hospital bed,” said Williams, whose career was derailed by a motorcycle accident. “I made my own mistake, but that’s the way things happened. And once a team moves on, they move on.”
The Bulls have been criticized for not ruling out Rose for the season much earlier. But an organization’s internal rumbling is one thing; outright embarrassing a guy to get back on the court is another.
When the Knicks last contended in the 1990s, some players believed Charles Smith was taking his time returning from injury. Pat Riley got wind of it and waited for Smith to walk into the locker room in his fine Italian wool as the players were getting dressed before a game.
Writing game-night details on the chalkboard, the coach turned and asked Smith, matter-of-factly, “Charles, if you could give me one minute tonight — just one — to win a championship, could you do it?’’
Smith shrugged his shoulders as his teammates looked at him. “Yeah, Coach, I could do that,’’ he said, nodding.
About two seconds later, Riley wheeled around once more and said, this time angrily. “Then what in the [expletive] are you doing in that suit?’’
Smith came off the injury list the next day. Now, if he was dogging it, fine. But if he wasn’t ready physically to come back, all Riley did was tell everyone on the roster it’s not okay to be hurt — in a profession that has a finite number of earning-power years?
It’s flat-out wrong to attack Rose’s fortitude, his desire as a competitor. Before the knee injury a year ago, he played through a pulled groin, back spasms, turf toe and probably plantar fasciitis.
Rose already has proven his toughness. Now, thanks to his small-minded detractors, he’s having to prove his common sense, too.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.