At his home in Seattle, Jamal Crawford gasped when he saw Derrick Rose crumple to the ground Saturday afternoon.
"I told my girlfriend right away, 'That's serious,'" Crawford said by phone on Sunday. "There was nobody around him and you could see the pain he was in. He couldn't control it.
"He's such a great guy. He's everything that's right with the league. I feel so bad for him. I know that feeling."
Indeed, close to 11 years have passed since Crawford tore his left ACL and meniscus on July 17, 2001, playing pick-up games with Michael Jordan and other pros at the now-defunct Hoops The Gym on the city's west side.
"You feel helpless," Crawford said. "Basketball is always an escape. When it's gone, you have so much time to think. I remember reading about other players and almost crying. You go through all these bad thoughts: 'Why did this happen to me?'
"Then, after surgery, you start rehab and start to see some progressions. You get a little more confident as it goes along. And then the last stage is the mental part: 'Can I still do that move? Can I still do that cut?' The actual leg you injure ends up being stronger than the leg that's not injured. But you don't believe that at first. You're scared. You doubt."
Ron Harper is another.
The starting shooting guard on the Bulls' second three-peat teams suffered his injury with the Clippers in January 1990. He disputes the theory it changed his game from a high-flying scorer to a defensive specialist, saying he averaged over 18 points his next four seasons and toned down his offense merely because he later played alongside Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
"When I went to the hole and took that first hard hit and fell down and my knee felt good, I knew everything was going to be fine," Harper said by phone from New Jersey. "You hear people say, 'He's not going to be the same basketball player. He ain't gonna have that explosion.' The only thing that does is motivate you to work extremely hard.
"I met this kid and I know how hard of a worker he is. He's going to come back the same player."
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