The Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls won't play again this season unless they somehow meet in the NBA Finals.
And it's a safe bet that's not going to happen.
We should all feel so safe, right?
Although the NBA season is a little more than a month old, the Utah-Chicago series is already over. The Jazz were spanked 97-73 in the Windy City back on Nov. 8. Utah returned the favor Nov. 25 with an 89-83 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.
Not long before that second game tipped off, the Bulls got word their MVP point guard, Derrick Rose, would miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Rose, 25, tore the meniscus in his right knee during the Bulls' Nov. 22 loss at Portland. He returned home to Chicago and underwent season-ending surgery just hours before the Bulls' game with the Jazz.
There was a gloomy feeling in Chicago's locker room before and after the game. Rose's coaches and teammates were understandably sorrowful at the news their best player -- and more importantly, a well-liked, well-respected member of the team -- would miss yet another season with yet another knee injury.
Rose missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
Upon arriving at the arena the night of the Jazz-Bulls game I quickly made my way to Utah's locker room in search of backup point guard John Lucas III. I knew Lucas and Rose were close friends, that the two had forged a relationship as teammates during the 2010-11 season.
Lucas, a journeyman player whose father, John, was a longtime player and coach in the NBA, isn't exactly a household name. But he's been around since the 2005-06 season and has developed a reputation as a charismatic locker room presence and an excellent mentor to young point guards. That's why he was in Chicago working with Rose and that's also why he's now in Utah working with Trey Burke.
When I found Lucas at his locker that night I asked him to share his feelings about Rose.
"He's one of a kind," Lucas said. "I've been around this league my whole entire life and he has 'it.' "
Lucas said the loss was, of course, a blow to the Bulls and the city of Chicago. But it was also a blow to the entire NBA because Rose is not only an excellent talent, he's a genuinely nice guy.
"One thing about Derrick, so many people are concerned about him, but in all actuality, he's really concerned about everybody else," Lucas explained. "That's what makes him 'that guy.'"
By now, tears were beginning to form in Lucas' eyes as he spoke of his friend. He mentioned that Rose had "it" and said he was "that guy" but there was a passion in his voice as he tried to further explain what makes him a special person.
"If you were a teammate of his, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about," Lucas said. "If you've ever been around him, had conversations with him or ever just been in the same presence as him, you know he's more worried about others than he is about himself."
Lucas said he was watching the Bulls play the Trail Blazers the night Rose got hurt. Knowing that his friend had spent all of last season trying to get back to feeling normal -- and that he'd only recently began getting his old form back -- it was heartbreaking to see the look on his face when he got hurt again.
"I could see the concern on his face," Lucas said. "You know, I just dropped down and I just started praying because I knew how hard he worked to get back."
Lucas said he is a religious person and that he believes in God. He said he believes God doesn't give people challenges they can't overcome.
Rose, he said, will overcome this challenge.
"He's going to be ready," Lucas said. "He's going to be just fine."
As I've often noted, I've got a great job. I get to cover great games, played by great players and it doesn't matter which team wins and which team loses, I still get to tell the story and that, to me, will always be a thrill.
Talking to Lucas that night, I appreciated my job just a little more than usual. It was inspiring to hear him speak with such concern and such passion for his friend. It was equally inspiring to know that for all the negativity that sometimes surrounds professional athletes, there are still good guys out there.
Derrick Rose is one of them and so is John Lucas.