Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose have a lot in common. Besides attending Simeon Career Academy, winning multiple state championships, and being recognized as elite, All-American prep basketball players, they’ve both been sidelined with injuries that has kept them away from the game they love for an extended period of time.
In April, Rose tore his ACL in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers and is in the process of rehabbing and making his return to the court. Parker suffered a fracture in his right foot in late July and hadn’t played a game until he took the court for the first time in last Saturday’s season opener against Milton (GA) at the Chicago Elite Classic.
Wolverines head coach, Robert Smith, who coached both Rose and Parker at Simeon, understands how much the game means to each player and knows how they felt with it being taken away.
“At any time, basketball can stop for you,” says Smith. “Jabari just went through that, where basketball was gone. I can remember him coming into my office and saying, ‘I’m not a basketball player anymore,’ because he hasn’t played in so long.
“And Derrick is going through that right now where he’s just sitting there and not being able to perform the craft that he loves to do. That’s tough for anybody to go through.”
While Rose has been viciously attacking his rehab and building up his body to where he looks a lot better physically now than he did before he got hurt, the injury to Parker’s foot forced him to completely shut down. The results of his extended layoff from the game could be seen immediately when he took the court to play competitive basketball for the first time in almost five months.
“Jabari’s conditioning isn’t 100 percent and [on Saturday] you could see him trying to make moves he normally makes but couldn’t,” said Coach Smith. “I told him that’s how I was when I stopped playing for a minute. I thought I could still make the same moves and couldn’t make them.”
Basketball is a game of timing and rhythm and if you sit out for an extended period of time – like D. Rose and Jabari have – it’s going to take a while to get both of those things back. But Parker will have plenty of time to work on his old moves and get himself back into basketball shape as the Wolverines don’t play again until Dec. 13 when they take on Prestonwood High School (Texas).
And the road ahead for the Wolverines isn’t easy as that contest will kick off a span of five games in eight days where they’ll also have to travel hundreds of miles away from home to play in Dallas (Prestonwood) and then two days later in Memphis, Tenn. at the Penny Hardaway Classic.
But for Parker, he doesn’t care about any of that. He’ll continue to work hard in practice to get himself back into game shape and the fact he’s playing basketball again after being forced to watch from the sidelines for so long, is good enough for the Simeon superstar.
“[Saturday] was mainly about getting a feel for the game and just being more thankful that I’m able to play again and having gratitude that [the injury] is coming to an end,” explained Parker. “I appreciate the game whole lot more.”