Many people are wondering why, after the game was already decided (with the Bulls facing defeat), that Derrick Rose was still in the game. Especially after he had sustained a sprained ankle prior to the contest.
I just wonder how many people were saying that before Rose hurt his ankle. Sports is one of the greatest industries for second guessing that ever existed. A person can sound so smart by saying something that’s painfully obvious, even if it’s after the fact.
The bottom line is that someone connected with the Bulls, assistant coaches, trainers, front office personnel, somebody, should have reached out to head coach Tom Thibodeau and suggested (demanded) Rose be taken out.
I recall a game in the second round of the 1992 NCAA tournament when I was coaching at USC. We were the #2 seed in the Midwest, playing an underachieving team from Georgia Tech (c’mon, a 7 seed with Jon Barry, Travis Best and Matt Geiger?) In the game just before ours, Memphis State (a team we would most assuredly have conquered) had upset Arkansas, meaning if we beat Georgia Tech, we could see ourselves playing for a berth in the Final Four!
We scored with about three seconds left to go up two. They called their final time out. We told our guys in the huddle to pick up full court and not to let Barry or Best beat us. They inbounded and Barry dribbled the ball off our guy’s foot, out of bounds, directly across from their basket. 0:00.8 read the clock. 8/10ths of a second! They were frantically looking at their bench which was in utter chaos.
Maybe you have seen what happened next since it’s been replayed about a hundred to two hundred thousand times. Our guards denied Barry and Best and just before the referee’s five count, James Forrest, a freshman broke out, caught the pass and launched a shot. In the post game press conference, a reporter asked Forrest, who had just made the first three-pointer of his career if he knew it was going in when it left his hands. His response was, “I really didn’t get a chance to look at the basket.” Oh, pour some salt James.
In the years since I have often thought of what we could have done differently. One thing crossed my mind. Harold Miner was our offensive wizard, a player no one in the country could stop. But he was definitely a defensive liability. As an assistant, I should suggested to our head coach, George Raveling, that we sub for Harold during that last time out. There was no need for him to be in the game during that last three seconds.
A couple years ago, I confessed to George that it bothered me that I could have prevented the loss - which quite possibly kept us from a Final Four appearance - had I just done my job. The guy Harold was guarding, or rather was supposed to have been guarding, was . . . James Forrest. Whether George would have listened (personally, I think he would have), is now moot.
All that aside, I (or somebody) should have been on the ball. Just like somebody should have mentioned removing Rose to Thibodeau.
In sports, like life, one thing is sure:
“Hindsight is 20-20.”