Losing Derrick Rose for season starting to sink in for Thibs, Bulls
By JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org April 21, 2013 2:50PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 7:08PM
NEW YORK – Those soft, fuzzy feelings about the hometown kid who survived growing up in Englewood to now being the face of the Bulls franchise?
Not so soft and fuzzy anymore.
With the announcement made by coach Tom Thibodeau on Saturday that Derrick Rose would “most likely’’ be out for the rest of the playoffs, still not over the mental hump of reaching that comfort level with his surgically-repaired left knee, came more negative sentiment from a fan base that has grown tired of the waiting game.
The Bulls players felt it on Sunday, as did their coach in Tom Thibodeau.
“Don’t judge character by an injury,’’ small forward Luol Deng warned.
Deng would know. He’s had several injuries that were questioned in the past, and only he knew how much pain he was actually dealing with, and in the case of the most recent one – his left wrist – how much pain he was willing to play with.
Thibodeau was asked if even he was starting to get bothered by the way in which is star point guard was being judged, especially with more and more questions about Rose’s heart thrown out on 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 and 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, and one in which Rose remains on a pedestal.
That mentality trickles down to the players, as well.
They have seen the work Rose has put into the rehab process since he had the May surgery. So in coming to New York for the first round of the playoffs, they’ve been prepared to answer questions about Rose, all the while very aware that the media will look for any crack where there isn’t that solidarity in the fact that Rose isn’t out there.
While several players have expressed surprise that he 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 how Rose doubters seem to be building.
“Because as [Bulls team doctor] Dr. Cole said from Day 1, it was going to be eight months to a year,’’ Thibodeau said. “Okay, so, you hope for the best, you 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, so that’s part of what we expected.
“As long as he continues to work the way he has, I’m good with it. I know how important he is and not just him. This would apply to any other guy. If a guy gets injured like that, you have to be patient.’’
The question that keeps getting brought up, however, is the only way Rose will ever get comfortable is by playing in a game, correct? What that means for the Bulls is they may have to provide him a different plan for the summer. Thibodeau acknowledged that, but still didn’t know what that would be.
“I’m not even thinking about that right now, but if we get there, if that’s the case, we’ll deal with it then,’’ Thibodeau said.