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Murmurs growing, but Thibs, Bulls have Derrick Rose’s back

Updated: April 22, 2013 4:46PM



NEW YORK — The soft, fuzzy feelings about the hometown kid who survived growing up in
Englewood to become the face of the Bulls aren’t so soft and fuzzy anymore.

With coach Tom Thibodeau’s
announcement Saturday that point guard Derrick Rose ‘‘most likely’’ would miss the playoffs because he still hasn’t been able to reach a mental comfort level with his surgically repaired left knee came more negative sentiment from a fan base that has grown tired of the waiting game. Bulls players felt it Sunday, as did Thibodeau.

‘‘Don’t judge character by an
injury,’’ forward Luol Deng said.

Deng would know. Several of his injuries were questioned in the past, and only he knew how much pain he really was dealing with. Or, in the case of his ailing left wrist, how much pain he was willing to play with.

Thibodeau was asked if he was starting to get bothered by the way in which Rose was being judged,
especially on sports-talk shows and in social media, and chose his words carefully.

‘‘It’s not bothersome because I know all that he’s putting into it and I know who he is,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I know his character. He’s done amazing things for our organization, and he’s doing all he can. That’s all you can ever ask a guy to do. So there’s always going to be some negativity, but I think the vast majority of it is very positive.’’

Then again, Thibodeau doesn’t do the Twitter thing or spend time posting on Facebook. His world is more of a bubble — one in which Rose remains on a pedestal.

That mentality trickles down to the players, too. They have seen the work Rose has put into the
rehab process since his surgery last May, so they are prepared to answer questions about him and defend him, when necessary.
They are aware, though, that the media will look for any crack in their solidarity.

Good luck. While several players have expressed surprise Rose hasn’t played this season beyond practice, it goes back to one belief: ‘‘It’s Derrick’s body, and he knows it better than anyone,’’ one player said last week.

That’s why Thibodeau doesn’t understand why the number of Rose doubters seems to be building.

‘‘[Team physician] Dr. [Brian] Cole said from Day 1 it was going
to be eight months to a year,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘OK, so you hope for the best [and] plan for the worst. The thing is, we don’t want him out there until he’s completely comfortable, and he’s not comfortable yet. . . . As long as he continues to work the way he has, I’m good with it. I know how important he is.’’

The issue that keeps arising, though, is the only way Rose will get over the mental hurdle is by playing in a game. What that means for the Bulls is they might have to provide him with a different plan for the summer. Thibodeau acknowledged that but said he didn’t know what that would be.

‘‘I’m not even thinking about that right now,’’ he said. ‘‘But if we get there, if that’s the case, we’ll deal with it then.’’



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