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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 02: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates his three point … [+] shot in the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 02, 2021 in New York City. The Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks 199-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Lonzo Ball showed early on in the 2021-22 season why the Chicago Bulls made it a priority to acquire him last offseason after failing to get him ahead of the 2021 trade deadline. The Bulls were even docked a future second-round pick after a tampering investigation, which came about after Ball’s sign-and-trade was reported immediately as free agency opened.

Ball’s playmaking (especially in transition), 3-point shooting (42.3%) and defense all played a key role in Chicago’s rise to become one of the most fun stories of the first half of the season. As one of the few legitimate two-way players on the roster, and perhaps the only one, Ball was the glue who kept the Bulls together on both ends. While he’s not an All-Star-level player, he’s important connective tissue any good team needs.

So, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that the Bulls fell off in a big way in the latter half of the season with Ball sidelined due to a nagging knee problem. In addition to needing surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Ball also had a painful bone bruise.

And, unfortunately, that bone bruise is apparently still a problem.

Chicago was hoping Ball would be able to return at the tail end of the regular season so he could participate in the playoffs. But every time he tried to ramp things up for a return, discomfort remained in the knee because of that bone bruise. The Bulls even tried shutting him down for a brief period and then ramping him up again, but to no avail. They ultimately ruled him out for the rest of the season, so he missed the five-game series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.

Ball addressed his knee injury at his exit interview about a month ago and said he was still dealing with knee pain. He even acknowledged another surgery was still possible. Then came a recent report from David Kaplan on ESPN 1000 claiming the knee still isn’t getting better and the organization has concerns.

Lonzo’s dad, LaVar Ball, tried to put those concerns to rest during an interview with Kaplan last week, saying the point guard won’t need another surgery and that he will be ready for the start of the 2022-23 season. While this is good to hear, it’s only fair to continue to worry until the Bulls put forth an official optimistic update on the matter.

Even then, Ball’s lengthy injury history is something to sweat about. He underwent meniscus surgery on the same knee back in 2018 and has never played more than 63 games in a season. While some of that is because of shortened NBA seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21, he has consistently missed time in his career.

Chicago obviously knew this when targeting Ball to be the point guard of the future, ultimately giving him a four-year, $80 million deal as part of the sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. Ball’s impact when on the court shows that was a worthwhile gamble.

But it’s going to be something to watch moving forward, especially as Ball continues to deal with this nagging knee problem. This could have an impact on how the Bulls approach roster-building this offseason, along with Zach LaVine’s free agency. While they have players like Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White who can play point guard, Chicago might look for a veteran option as a backup plan given Ball’s injury woes.

Ultimately, the Bulls made a major investment in Lonzo Ball last summer and need him to come through in order for them to reach their ceiling in the coming years, assuming he’s not traded. His versatile skill set means so much to the roster, so that knee needs to heal up and be ready for

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A man places his hand on a cross bearing the names of the victims of a mass shooting in front of Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Americans are treated like babies by our media. We’re a violent society where our children are shot in schools, our cops murder citizens with impunity and our military drops bombs on foreign countries. Are we OK with all of that? Clearly, we are, but how can we really know if we’re OK with that when we never see the impact of it? We never see the bodies, the blood or the injuries that AR-15s and drone strikes leave.

The story of the Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., mass murders is being told through words and peaceful images of the dead smiling beatifically in photos. I appreciate the imperative to restore the dignity of the dead and to remember them at their best, but in doing that, we are protecting the rest of us from the reality of what happened to them. Those sweet photos of the dead at peace are part of numbing us to sleep, which allows this to keep happening. It shields us from the reality of the violence this country is awash in. Being kept from those images keeps us from the outrage that could force political action.

This week on MSNBC, former Attorney General Eric Holder said that when he visited Sandy Hook after the mass murder there, seeing the bodies hurt him to his soul. “If we could somehow convey the nature of this carnage from these AR-15s, these weapons of war, then we could move this nation,” he said.

If we showed people what bullet-ridden bodies looked like, it would be harder for them to shrug and say, “well, nothing can be done.” It would be so painful that they would be forced to act. We should not be able to hear these stories and turn away. We should not be protected from the pain of seeing limbs separated and faces destroyed if we are making a choice to live with mass murders all the time. If we’re going to be a society where mass murder is part of our world, we should have to see what that really looks like.

Horrific images have changed the world before. In the years before 1955, there were thousands of people who were lynched, but when Mamie Till courageously let a photographer take photos of her son Emmett’s destroyed body, Americans got to see an unfiltered vision of what was happening in this country. The image of Emmett’s disfigured head propelled the civil rights movement to a new level of intensity.

Similarly, the long, graphic closeup of George Floyd being murdered on video was very hard to watch—most of us don’t have the stomach to watch an execution. But millions of people saw that footage, and it inspired a galvanizing national event for the modern Black Lives Matter movement. When we see reality in all of its unvarnished ugliness, we can no longer ignore it. We have to stand up against it.

News media is working from an outdated playbook that says images of death are too much to show people, but what’s truly too much is living with mass murder all the time. If you think it would be too traumatizing, that’s the point—it should be traumatizing. But if your point is, “what about my comfort?” in a world that’s awash with mass murder and a political system that’s doing nothing about it, you may be part of the problem.

Touré hosts the podcast “Touré Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books.

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