HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The holiday season in Chicago will be much brighter if the Bears take care of their business on the gridiron and the Bulls get closer to the return of the face of their franchise, Derrick Rose.
The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley reports, via sources, that Rose is just weeks away from joining the Bulls on the practice floor.
Rose is doing his part, he was “sprinting in bursts” after practice Monday, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. It’s the latest step in a long and arduous rehabilitation process for Rose, who tore his left ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls’ playoff series against Philadelphia in April.
The eight months since the injury (he actually had surgery May 12) have been rough on the Bulls (8-7), who have scrapped their way back to the top of the Central Division standings after an uneven two-week stretch of basketball early this season.
An earlier-than-anticipated return for Rose, however, would do more than just lift spirits in Chicago.
Noah has been one of the anchors for the Bulls in Rose’s absence, which has forced the Bulls to lean harder on their defensive fundamentals and to search out different catalysts to sustain them:
Aside from a major advertising campaign from adidas, Rose has stayed out of the public eye by design. He hasn’t traveled much with the Bulls this season and has not formally spoken with reporters since media day early in October. Noah admitted that like many of his teammates there are still times when he looks on the floor and still can’t believe his close friend and teammate isn’t out there with him.
“Of course,” Noah said. “I think everybody does. But at the same time it’s also knowing that if we keep working individually, as a whole, we’ll be better for the long run. It’s always about looking at the big picture. There’s a lot of basketball to be played and the exciting thing about it is he’ll be back.”
Even without Rose on the floor, Noah is in the midst of a career season averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists a game in close to 40 minutes a night. While it’s been strange for him to play without Rose, he is motivated by seeing his friend’s recent workouts because he realizes Rose will be back in the near future.
“I think that this season there’s been highs and lows,” Noah said. “First of all, it’s been different playing without Derrick, but it also makes you (realize) … what I love about playing with Derrick is I feel like it’s always more than basketball. Just him being from Chicago, it gives me more motivation and if things go well I feel like he’ll be back and that’s exciting. But right now we’re trying to hold the fort down and we’re playing as hard as we can every night. Win or lose I feel like we’re giving everything we got and I think if we keep doing that we’re going to have success.”
As valiant as the effort has been, the Bulls need a healthy (or as close to it as possible) Rose to fight for their spot among the Eastern Conference and league elite.