- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

CHICAGO (AP) - As he hobbled off the court again, Derrick Rose found himself in a familiar and painful spot.

The folks at Adidas might be wincing, too.

The sports apparel giant might have to find a backup plan after building its multimillion-dollar NBA marketing campaign around the Chicago Bulls‘ superstar point guard, whose injured right knee will cost him the rest of the 2013-14 season that will stretch into June. Rose sat out last season following surgery on his left knee, and the Bulls are reliving a nightmare.

To some extent, so is Adidas. The company that launched “The Return” campaign documenting Rose’s recovery last year from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and his rise from a rough South Side Chicago neighborhood to stardom for the hometown team could be taking a hit, too.

“He is their counterpoint to Nike and LeBron (James),” said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “But to being out effectively two years in a row and doubts as to how fragile his body might be in the future has to give them great pause, both in the near term and the long term as to whether he will fade from the public consciousness by not being on the national and international stage. One year is acceptable. Two years, people are very quick to move on to others.”

Rose and the Bulls were counting on a return to the form that made him the NBA’s youngest MVP in 2011 and were eyeing at a run at James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.

They can probably forget about that for now after Rose had surgery this week to repair a medial meniscus tear.

Rose has played in just 50 NBA games _ 49 in the regular season _ since he led Chicago to the Eastern Conference finals during his MVP season. He was just working his way back from surgery after tearing his left ACL in the 2012 playoff opener when the injury to his right knee cropped up, another dagger for the Bulls and Adidas. That it happened in Portland, just a few miles from the company’s North American headquarters, was another twist.

Adidas America president Patrik Nilsson and Portland-based vice president of global basketball Lawrence Norman were sitting courtside and had an up-close view. Had they shed tears, would anyone have blamed them?

Rose signed a contract extension with the company in February 2012 that reportedly was worth $185 million to $260 million over 13 or 14 years. Two months later, he tore his ACL. Now, he’s on the mend again.

Adidas issued a statement wishing Rose well while pledging its support, and it’s not clear how the latest injury will impact the campaign.

“I can tell you that we’re focused on supporting Derrick through his recovery,” Adidas spokeswoman Madeline Breskin said. “Our plans remain unchanged at this time and we will update business plans, as needed.”

Ganis and Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing analyst at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, said the company really has no choice but to go to a backup plan at least for now.

Either way, the company is in a tough spot.

When it comes to basketball shoe sales in the U.S., Nike has a stranglehold. The Swoosh is by far the leader at 92 percent with Adidas a distant second at 5.5 percent, according to research firm SportsOneSource.

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