Suddenly, Rose’s Return Looks Right On Time For Bulls

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DEERFIELD, Ill. – Derrick Rose’s
back.

And the Chicago Bulls have it.

Rose participated in the Bulls’ Media Day Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, coming out in his home whites same as last year. Only then, he was a hardwood version of Punxsutawney Phil – that was the last anyone saw of him in uniform for a full year, until he popped out again Friday, his rehab from left knee surgery lingering through the entire 2012-13 schedule and postseason.

While Rose’s game was warehoused, his reputation took a hit – the Bulls and the medical experts had talked of a return in “eight to 10 months,” which would have had back in the lineup sometime around the All-Star break, supposedly by March. When that didn’t happen – when the organization still was playing the will-he-or-won’t-he game into the Eastern Conference semifinals against Miami – some in the public questioned his commitment, his courage, you name it.

Rose knew it. His teammates and coaches knew it. None of them wavered in their belief in the 2011 MVP and his timeline, and they met it head-on Friday.

“People are going to have their opinions,” Rose told NBA TV. “There’s nothing I can do about that. For me, all I had to do was worry about my injury and worry about my health. Of course I could have came back, but if I would have came back and I wasn’t the same player, they would have been talking even [worse] about me.

“Getting back to my old self was my biggest concern. So I had to think about myself and kind of be selfish with it.”

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau was even more direct. “The people that criticized him, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” he said.

As badly as Thibodeau missed having his All-Star point guard, as much scrambling as he had to do with the Bulls’ game plan to use Nate Robinson as Rose’s surrogate, he stuck with the company line that was set by team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who made it clear they all would err on the side of caution – and delay – in Rose’s comeback.

“Jerry made it clear he did not want him coming back until he was completely healthy, 100 percent,” Thibodeau said. “And that’s exactly what he did. He kept pushing and pushing but he never felt comfortable enough to play at the level he wanted to play at.

“Then when you look at who Derrick is as a person, there’s not a more loyal, hard working, team-first guy out there. For him to take that criticism on, I think was unfair. It was a tough decision he had to make but it was the right decision.”

Said forward Luol Deng: “The whole year, I knew how bad he wanted to play. So I never questioned it, when he made his decision on [not] coming back. I knew that he would know before anyone when he was ready.”

The difference in Rose, from other ACL patients such as Ricky Rubio or Iman Shumpert, was his reliance on explosion, torque and cutting. “Could he play in a game? Well, maybe,” Thibodeau said. “But he couldn’t play the way he likes to play. And the way he’s capable of playing. His game is very different. Very explosive. Change of directions, things of that nature.”

The Bulls begin two-a-day sessions Saturday. No one – not Rose, Thibodeau, general manager Gar Forman or anyone else – has specified a minutes limit for him in practice or in games.

The games, of course, will be the real test. Rose practiced with the Bulls since early last winter, so when Chicago faces Indiana Saturday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, one of the most closely watched comebacks in the NBA this season will meet its first hurdle.

“My knee is good,” Rose said. “My confidence is steadily growing in my knee. I don’t have any worries at all. When I’m practicing, I’m reacting instead of thinking. Anyone who’s had these injuries would know you want to react instead of think while you’re on the court. So I’m feeling good.”

In a sense, Rose is in a no-lose situation: If he returns like his old self, people will argue that his decision to wait through the summer – and his annual tune-ups in Los Angeles – was the right strategy. If he shows rust or has off-nights – as most who return from his particular injury do – folks can say, “See, how could he have come back in the playoffs?”

But there will be no rust, if Rose has his way.

“[Doctors have] said it, but at the same time, I have confidence in myself,” he said. “I know what type of player I am. I know how my training has been. For me going out there to play, I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I believe in myself.”

22 Comments

  1. T says:

    As a person who’s torn his ACL, I understand how tough the injury and surgery is. It’s hard to understand just how tough this injury is, unless you’ve gone through it. It’s tough on both a physical and mental level… Mentally probably being the toughest because you have to learn to use that knee/leg again and put your complete trust in it.

    It’s such a depressing feeling as an athlete when you’re used to just reacting and being able to explode, pivot, cut and change directions without thinking. You realize you took those things for granted after having this injury. I wasn’t close to the athlete D. Rose was, so I can only imagine how he felt not having that natural ability to do those things. It’s crazy because you literally have to start all over and it takes time with this injury. 10-12 months is when most athletes return, but this is actually an injury that requires 24 months before you start to feel “normal” again. And not every knee/ACL tear is the same. Sometimes you can damage other parts of knee during the tear. They’re all so different and can affect athletes in different ways.

    I’m really rooting for D. Rose. By going through the adversity of this type of injury, he’ll be better because of it.

  2. Ed G says:

    If he comes back full strength, then all is forgotten. If he will never be the same player, then all is forgiven. There is just no condemning this guy.

  3. Kobe-Nash-Pau-Carmelo-Lebron says:

    Go Rose!! Beat the heat!!

  4. Max Heyden says:

    There was the issue that if he came out and said “I’m shutting down this season for sure” the Bulls fans would have lost a lot of interest/support that the Bulls needed during the end of the season and playoffs. Rose’s tentativeness may have been an attempt to keep the Bulls fans excited and interested and not giving up on them.

    • alic says:

      @max if that’s the case, those bulls fans are what we refer to as bandwagon. I can’t speak for everyone but to me d rose made the right choice people want to compare him to Adrian Peterson but he is not look at rg3 he was medically cleared and he still not 100%. D rose wouldn’t have been the same if he played he knew that and people who suffer similar injuries pro or not understands it.

  5. BLZGK3 says:

    My goodness!

    No one is really bashing Rose just because he simply sat out, it was because he kept stringing the media and his fans along at the end of the season and throughout the playoffs with his “I may return tomorrow, I may return this week, or next month. Only God knows” or his “I’ll comeback when I can dunk off my left leg” comments. Him putting on shows during pregame shoot around, dunking and all, didn’t help much either. Even in that Miami series, he just kept poking at that possibility of returning and Yo-yoing everyone emotions instead of simply shutting it down and calling it a season. It was how he handled the situation, never really being straightforward about where he really was, and how he kept creating an atmosphere of anticipation instead of making it official that he will be missing the season that created all this negativity around him….

    • Junior says:

      wow … it sounds like your whole life stood still waiting on D Rose to play again. Who cares that he eventually didn’t play,the bulls were beaten up and weren’t gonna beat the heat last year anyway. It’s his career and i think he’d rather play another 100 playoff games than 4/5 and ruin his knee. The other reason idiots hate in him is because his salary (we all know professional athletes are overpaid) get over it !!!

    • Tom Thibodeau says:

      You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

  6. Sandal says:

    Oh my god!
    So many haters, I suppose you are all professional ball players who have suffered the exact same injury and know when he should have been back? No! Then try concentrating on your own sad little lives and give the guy a break! It was a possible career threatening injury to one of the leagues best players, and whether it was mental or medical he shouldn’t return until he is absolutely 100% sure. To do otherwise is idiocy, a bit like some of the comments on here

  7. #ROSE#MVP says:

    Injured player gets full paycheck the whole year no matter what, its stipulated in their contract. It was smart move not to play, cant wait to see Rose killing them

  8. beens says:

    Nahhhhhhhh!

  9. Darryl says:

    Rose is all build ups everyone looks forward to his return but after two seasons of bench warming does he really have the skill and mind set to dominate the league???? can he take on the pacers?, the new nets? or the heat? i dont think so he is going to let chicago down again, making it a third strike!

  10. old skool says:

    Even if he comes back hlaf the player he once was, he still gave us an amazing 4 years of bball than most do in 10 + years, thisndude is the second coming , good luck dee !

  11. Turk says:

    For me, this talk about being not %100 or not being himself is complete nonsense. It was all about money, as it is always. Chicago didn’t want to pay the rose’s salary last year. So they didn’t allowed him to play; thus, the insurance company paid his whole salary, which resulted in 20M $ for Chicago.

  12. R-Dawg says:

    I think delaying his comeback until this year was all about fear. He was scared of getting reinjured and his career being over. I think it is good he took his time.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      how was it good he took his time? the Doctors said he medically 100% cleared to play around the all – star break of last year … in the playoffs his team needed him and Rose’ response was that he wasn’t “mentally ready” … Rose should take notes from Kobe’s determination and competitiveness. Rose has no heart, he lost a lot of respect from a lot of people … i’d take Curry, Irving, or Parker over him as a PG anyday !

  13. Ralph says:

    I love Thibs’ comment. “Those who criticized him didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.” People will still talk, whether he is successful or not. And still, they won’t know what the hell they are talking about.

    • BigBoy says:

      “The people that criticized him, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” he said they are not they were. get it right before you quote somebody.