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Will we really see Derrick Rose at United Center tonight?

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Updated: October 16, 2013 10:37AM



Let’s say you’re a 12-year-old in Brazil, and your name is . . . Matheus. Why Matheus? I don’t know, cool name.

Anyway, this is last Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, and your dad has taken you to the HSBC Arena, and you’re jacked up because you’re 12 and you’re going to watch the Bulls play the Washington Wizards. But, above all, you’re going to see superstar Derrick Rose play!

Except he doesn’t.

You look at your dad, crushed.

‘‘Why?’’ you plead.

‘‘His knee is sore,’’ your dad says.

And so little Matheus sits there, despairing, wounded, tormented by the world, wondering why in the hell a man who has been rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee for almost a year and a half would travel halfway to the bottom of the globe to not do the one thing in life everyone wants to see him do.

If you will, dear readers, I am young Matheus.

Within this aging shell sits a 12-year-old’s heart. A 12-year-old’s yearning.

I no longer know what to think about Rose’s knee or anything that has to do with the onetime most valuable player of the NBA’s actual real-world playing schedule.

I know Adidas is pumping the daylights out of his new d rose 4 shoe, at $140 a pair. The ads are on TV, in magazines, on ESPN’s NBA front page: ‘‘BUILT FOR STRONG CONTROL AND EXPLOSIVE FINISHES.’’

We can only wish.

Rose practiced hard with the Bulls on Tuesday at the Berto Center, and he took a bunch of three-point shots once the media was allowed into the court area afterward. He smiled and displayed his funky facial hair that makes him look a tad sinister at times, but he didn’t speak.

We don’t need him to say anything, anyway. We just need to see him play.

And, yes — if the winds are blowing right and the big lake parts — he’ll play competitive basketball at the United Center for the first time since April 28, 2012, on Wednesday night. The Bulls play the Detroit Pistons, and Rose will be in the lineup. This is what we’ve heard.

But they heard something like that in Brazil, too.

Yes, Rose played in the Bulls’ two pre-Rio preseason games, and observers say he actually might have added five inches to his already crazy vertical hops. As he claims.

But I haven’t seen him play yet. Nor have most Chicagoans since he went down with that ACL tear against the 76ers in the playoffs oh-so-long ago. Did you know he almost had a triple-double in that game — 23-9-9 — plus a block and a steal? Sigh.

Since then, he has been a tireless worker on the treadmill back to what he once was, but the comeback still seems so tenuous. So delicate. Rose’s knee was sore in Brazil, coach Tom Thibodeau said, because the flight to Rio was long, then once in town, ‘‘Guys couldn’t get off their feet because of all the obligations they had with the league.’’

Foolish Matheus and I thought playing basketball might be the biggest obligation. But what do we know?

Well, we know worry.

This is the year, the time, the moment for the Bulls to go for it all, to unseat the Miami Heat, to be led by a rejuvenated Rose. Time waits for no one. Rose is 25. This is his sixth season in the NBA.

That is, if we count last season, when he played nary a second.

You’ll excuse us for worrying. You see, our ACLs are fine.

‘‘I think I’ll be happy to be back there and put on a show,’’ Rose said Monday of his return to the United Center.

A show.

How happy we’d be with a tiny display. An injury- and soreness-free minute or two sound great to me.

It seems like all the great ones in Chicago sports history take a break to re-gather themselves or recover from something, then come back. I’m thinking Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg and Gale Sayers.

Let’s hope that was Rose’s moment, that it’s finally over, and away we go.

“It’s a shoe that shows both sides of my personality,’’ Rose says in his d rose 4 print ad.

One side’s enough for me: Laced up and flying.



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