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Why are Bulls being silent about Derrick Rose?

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:39AM



There are many reasons to be excited about the eventual return of Derrick Rose, from his transcendent athletic ability to his calm leadership to our not having to watch the erratic, vertigo-causing play of Nate Robinson.

But if I had to pick one reason I’ll be happy when Rose steps back onto the court for the Bulls, it would be the end to the drip-drip-drip of “updates’’ about his situation.

For the better part of four months, we’ve had to listen to coach Tom Thibodeau say that Rose is “making progress,’’ the specifics of which have been few and far between. Thibodeau has said the public needs to be patient. He said this so many times that the patient died two months ago from a lack of stimulation.

How has the knee injury, surgery and rehab affected Rose’s explosiveness, the foundation of his game? What has he been going through psychologically, in terms of working through a devastating injury and dealing with life away from games? What obstacles does he face as he moves forward in his comeback? Has he gone on any three-day candy-eating jags? I don’t know to all of the above.

Somebody throw me a bone.

None of us in the viewing audience knows anything because Rose isn’t talking. I’m all for him opening his mouth so we can put a merciful end to Thibodeau’s non-updates.

Why haven’t we heard a peep from Rose? Another very good question. I put in a call Thursday to what I believe is the phone of Reggie Rose, Derrick’s brother and adviser, but heard the familiar sound of silence.

The only thing I’ve been surprised about is that Thibodeau hasn’t started referring to Rose’s surgically repaired knee as a “lower-body injury,’’ the way NHL coaches are allowed to with their players. I don’t want to say that the flow of information coming out of the Berto Center is what you might see in a police state, but Thibodeau’s suits are starting to look like the late Kim Jong Il’s to me.

If your eyes are glazed these days, it’s because you’ve been worn down by the almost-daily reports about Rose’s physical condition, which is to say, “Who really knows?”

‘‘It’s going to be awhile,’’ Thibodeau said most recently of Rose’s return. ‘‘It’s the next step in the rehab, so everyone has to be patient. He’s doing fine, he’s playing more, he’s practicing more, so he’s doing well. We want him to concentrate on his rehab and the team to concentrate on improvement and our next opponent. Nothing has changed.’’

Teammates are reluctant to talk on the record about what they’ve seen from Rose in practice, in the same way that dogs are reluctant to cross an Invisible Fence.

Does Rose really exist? Has anyone thought to ask? The occasional videos of him running laps or shooting jump shots — could they be doctored? We have to question everything now, post-Manti Te’o.

It’s obvious what Thibodeau is trying to do. He doesn’t want expectations for Rose’s return to build to such a level that his point guard can’t possibly meet them. They’ve seen the way the Timberwolves have slowly brought back Ricky Rubio from a knee injury, and they want Rose to be able to similarly ease into his return. Putting a clamp on out-of-control expectations is one way to do it.

But by keeping the flow of information to a trickle, the Bulls are putting on such a tease that it’s having the opposite effect. Reporters keep asking the same question every day — “How is Derrick today?’’ — because they haven’t been getting any real answers. What the Bulls have managed to do is keep all sorts of focus on Rose by refusing to show what’s behind the curtain.

There’s nothing to suggest that anything is wrong with him, but if you’re a skeptic, you might wonder about all the secrecy. Is there something the Bulls don’t want us to know?

I’m guessing everything is fine with Rose’s knee, but it sure would be nice if we could hear it from him. Short of that, a Thibodeau comment without the words “patient” and “improving” would be swell.

Forbes magazine estimates the Bulls’ worth at $800 million, third in the NBA behind the Knicks and Lakers. Who made the franchise that wealthy? OK, besides Michael Jordan. The fans did. Would it kill the Bulls to offer some meaningful, on-the-record information? Apparently, yes. And their obituary would be written in invisible ink.



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