Both suffered their injury without contact from another player.
The loss of each of these three young guards have rippled across the NBA differently but their successful rehabilitation will influence the progress of commissioner David Stern’s strategic vision in important ways.
Never in the Internet Era have two players as marketable as Rubio and Rose faced rehabilitation from serious injury.
Rose has even chronicled his return to the floor through a series of YouTube videos.
In his rookie season, Shumpert developed into a critical part of the Knicks rotation. His length, athleticism and defense lifted a huge burden from their superstar, Carmelo Anthony, and will be key to future on-court success as the Knicks face competition from within the state, as the Nets moved across New York Harbor to Brooklyn.
Spain is quite possibly the world’s leading sporting nation based on its status as reigning World and European Cup holder in football (soccer), the world’s most popular sport, and its having won consecutive Silver Medals in Olympic basketball, the world’s second most popular sport, while also ranking second in FIBA’s world ranking.
His performance as a teenager in the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year, won the 2008 Mr. Europa Award and led two different teams to victory in each of Europe’s two top continental championships.
David Stern’s ultimate legacy will be as the man who presided over the globalization of basketball and cemented its status as the world’s second-most popular sport. A European player as decorated as Rubio is extremely important to the growth of the game there, especially with so much of world sport’s focus on Spain.
Hollywood films increasingly rely upon foreign box office revenue and the NBA now utilizes a similar business model. In fact, China is now the NBA’s largest market, bigger than even the United States.
Rubio was drafted in 2009 but waited two seasons before joining the Minnesota Timberwolves for a few reasons: age, 18 on draft day, the Timberwolves lack of recent or historical success, and the size of the Minnesota market.
Playing for a big-market team was seen by his advisers as the best way to maximize endorsements and raise his profile at home and abroad.
Once he finally joined the team, Rubio was a main draw to Minnesota’s first sellout crowd since 2007-2008, was named Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month award in the first month of the season finished runner up in Rookie of the Year voting to Kyrie Irving.
His exciting style of play transformed the struggling Timberwolves into one of the most exiting team in the league.
More than a decade of scandalously immense, sometimes immensely scandalous– but always hilarious– mismanagement saw one of the league’s flagship franchises miss the playoffs for twelve consecutive seasons.
Other teams have cultivated followings while the Knicks have driven supporters away. The idea that another team could actually move into one of the five boroughs would have been unthinkable just a decade ago.
The Carmelo Anthony trade gutted a promising and entertaining young roster in 2011, but finally were back in the news for basketball reasons.
The addition of Anthony made them relevant in the Eastern Conference for the first time in years.
New York transformed into a legitimate playoff team for the first time since severing ties with general manager Isaiah Thomas by finding talent in the NBA Draft.
They assembled enough pieces to make the Anthony trade happen then quickly reloaded by selecting Shumpert with the 17th overall pick in 2011.
Before he tore his ACL, Shumpert emerged as one of the league’s best on-the-ball perimeter defenders, demonstrating the potential to check the opponents best outside scorer on a nightly basis.
This allowed Carmelo Anthony to keep his legs fresh and worry about being arguably the League’s best pure scorer. As the season progressed, Shumpert’s value to the team increased along with his minutes.
Shumpert’s rehabilitation will be key to the Knicks’ future on-the-court success as they compete off-the-court in their home market for the first time.
A player has to be pretty special for his personal contract situation to merit a change to the league’s compensation structure, in fact, there are only two such players in League history, Larry Bird and Rose.
Last year, the Bulls pulled the NBA’s second highest average television viewership.
This column is loathe to risk harming his popularity in northeast Italy and respects Benny the Bull’s work, but neither a role player like Marco Belinelli nor any mascot draws those eyeballs to viewers’ flatscreen TV’s like Rose.
People look into the NBA universe to see how bright its stars shine. Negative attention sells ads on talk radio or SportsCenter but the TNT, ESPN, NBC and foreign networks sell ads based on the number of people who watch games and viewers demand a compelling reason to tune in… like Rose exploding to the rim.
So popular is he, in fact, that he was voted in as an All-Star Game starter with the third highest vote total in the NBA while suffering through an injury-plagued season.
The 24-year-old might not be quite at their level, but he explodes toward the basket with a unique combination of elite quickness, rare physical strength for a point guard and a fearlessness.
When he tucks the ball for his approach to the basket, he looks like an NFL running back.
Rose is that rare athlete who compels people to stick with a three hour game just for the chance to see someone make a moment of genius look easy.
The Bulls built an excellent roster that blends youthful athleticism and veteran savvy with Rose as the centerpiece.
The late date of his injury means there is significant ‘lost season’ potential in Chicago but they went 50-16 with their star missing a third of last year’s condensed season, so the Bulls should remain in the playoff hunt even without their star point guard.
The timing will be important, though, when gauging their potential for advancement in the playoffs.
Chicago had a legitimate shot at representing the East in the NBA Finals before his injury, so it will be important for them to safely reintegrate him into their rotation some time before the post season starts.
Rose and Rubio recoveries will draw most of the attention.
The NBA has never seen two potential marketing behemoths simultaneously rehabilitate from serious knee injuries in the internet era and there’s a lot, both on and off the court, resting upon their surgically repaired knees.
Each player differs in potential, career progression and other important factors but taken together they illustrate the picture of a league hoping to build on the success of both homegrown and imported superstars.
Rose is the measuring stick by which young point guards will be compared in the future after a wildly successful start to his career. He’s been the type of franchise player a team expects when it selects someone with the first overall draft pick.
Rubio hopes to set the standard for a new generation of European stars coming to the NBA from more mature, developed domestic programs, with Spain leading the way.
The Knicks hope the affable, athletic Shumpert will give them defensive flexibility and allow Anthony to conserve energy on the defensive end and his contribution will be enough to help a star-powered club achieve its potential in a competitive conference.
If each player’s rehabilitation is successful the performance of the NBA’s existing brands will continue to strengthen as the league looks to further ingratiate itself in new markets.
Stern’s front office team has made startling progress in almost three decades expanding the game beyond American shores and these three young guards’ successful recoveries are some of the most important early story lines in this young season.