Mike Conley can’t recall the last time he played a regular season game against Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose.
“It’s been a while,” the Memphis Grizzlies point guard told MemphiSport following Monday night’s loss against the Houston Rockets in FedExForum. “I got the chance to play against him in the preseason. But it’s not the regular season, so it’s weird not having played against him in the last two or three years.”
The Conley-versus-Rose matchup will be delayed at least until sometime during the 2014-15 season. That’s because the Bulls on Monday announced that Rose, the 2010-11 league MVP, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear to his right knee.
Rose, a former University of Memphis star who led the Tigers to the 2008 national title game, injured his right knee in the third quarter of last Friday’s game against the Portland Trailblazers. The 25-year-old Rose had the medial meniscus repaired Monday in Chicago and the surgery was successful, according to various media reports.
Rose’s season-ending injury comes 18 months after the Chicago native tore his ACL in Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. He missed the entire 2012-13 season, although he returned to full contact drills in January 2013 and doctors cleared him to play approximately two months later.
Rose’s latest injury sent shock waves around the league, most notably among a number of NBA players, who immediately turned to social media sites and posted complimentary messages and well-wishes to show support for the three-time All-Star.
Prior to his injury, Rose was the Bulls’ second-leading scorer, averaging 15.9 points and 31.1 minutes per game.
“You know, everybody was wishing him well,” said Conley, who also expressed his support for Rose via Twitter.
But after witnessing Rose play inspired basketball by scoring 13 points in the Bulls’ 106-87 win over the Grizzlies in Memphis’ preseason opener Oct. 7 in St. Louis, Conley sensed that Rose was on track to return to form much like his MVP campaign two years ago.
“I told him I was happy to see him,” Conley said of Rose. “I told him he looks like he’s getting stronger and getting better. He was happy; obviously, he was playing hard. It was good to see him out on the court.”
After word spread that Rose would miss the remainder of the season due to yet another devastating injury, Conley, like a number of Rose’s peers, found the news difficult to stomach.
“You know it hurts man,” Conley, the longest-tenured Grizzly, said when asked how he reacted after learning that Rose would be sidelined for the remainder of the year. “I don’t take injuries lightly at all. And for a guy like him with talent, it’s got to be frustrating. It’s tough. It’s got to be tough with him carrying so much on his shoulders. I mean, he’s carrying that franchise. He was expected to turn that franchise around and he’s done that, and because he can’t play because of his injury has got to be tough on him. We all feel for him, will pray for him, and hopefully he comes back healthy.”
The Grizzlies, who travel to Boston Wednesday night at 6:30 CST, will play the Bulls Dec. 30 in FedExForum. Memphis travels to play Chicago March 7.