The compressed NBA schedule is much like those KFC Famous Bowls: Mix everything together in a condensed space and see how it tastes.
But what if you're a buttermilk biscuit fan? Will it whet your appetite when it's layered with pieces of crispy chicken, mashed potatoes or sweet corn?
One's favorite bite in the concoction is comparable to an NBA superstar and his significance to his team. Every sports fan with a pulse understands Derrick Rose is the soup du jour of the Chicago Bulls and the reigning MVP is a prime example of how the new 66-game schedule is beginning to take its toll on some of the league's finest players (Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups and Al Horford included).
Rose has one of the quickest first steps off the dribble, but right now the centerpiece to the hoopsters in the Second City is at a crawl because back spasms have kept one of the NBA's most dynamic athletes taking up a chair in street clothes the last three games. An MRI on the former No. 1 overall pick's back revealed no structural damage and surprisingly the same can be said for Chicago's chemistry without its go-to guy on the floor.
Quite frankly, the Bulls' success without Rose this season may be just an aberration. The Bulls are 2-1 in the past three games without him and 6-2 overall with Rose on the sidelines either because of a nagging left toe sprain or his back issue. Rose, however, said there's no pain in the toe as of late, but that could change when he steps onto the hardwood again. Known for his toughness and high threshold for pain, Rose said he will take his time before opting to return.
"Right now, I shouldn't have any problems in the long run," Rose said. "This back thing should be behind me in a couple of days. I should be back out there in a couple of days. I'll take my time and be smart and make sure I'm stretching."
Rose hasn't hired a specialist to help him privately at his home and is very thankful for the Bulls' concerned training staff. He's been stretching more than usual to alleviate tightness and did see a chiropractor to get some tips on the healing process and find a solution to the problem. The 6-foot-3, 190- pound Memphis product was told by the team's management to take his time in regards to his health and head coach Tom Thibodeau noted that it's not just Rose's decision to resume playing.
"There are a lot of people weighing in on it. We have a great medical staff, a great training staff. Their input is critical," Thibodeau said. "His input is critical. We're certainly not going to do anything to jeopardize him being hurt."
Thibodeau's assessment couldn't be more accurate, but Chicago is actually playing well right now and owns the best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-7, including a spicy 10-1 record at the United Center.
It could be a few days or possibly weeks (ouch!) before Rose resumes play, and missing the All-Star Game on Feb. 26 in Orlando could be an actuality depending on how the healing process continues.
As for now, the Bulls are rolling along with C.J. Watson running the point. Watson may bring a watery taste to center stage and is averaging 13 points in his last three starts. His season average is 10.4 points per game.
It would be nice for Bulls guard Richard Hamilton to get healthy from a right thigh injury which has sidelined him for nine straight games. He recently dealt with a death in his family and is back with the team.
In another move to suppress the loss of Rose, Chicago signed journeyman Mike James to a 10-day contract. While there's arguably no man who could replace Rose on the floor in Chicago besides maybe Magic Johnson or John Stockton -- two retired superstar guards -- James is just another body at Thibodeau's disposal. James shared his sentiments on what Rose means to this team.
"Great guy, humble, one of the best basketball players in the game," James said of Rose. "Hopefully, he can get his body back to 100 percent. Well, you'll never be 100 percent, but at least 99.9. He's definitely needed by this team and he brings a whole new dimension to the game when he's on the court."
For the Bulls' sake, they hope Rose can take the floor soon with a clean bill of health. For now, however, Chicago's backcourt will remain bland at best.