Really, he’s four-plus months late, but whatever.
Speaking with Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said that Rose was himself again:
The old Derrick Rose is back.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose’s speed and explosiveness are back to where the former MVP feels like himself again.
“I worked him out about a week ago,” Thibodeau said in a phone conversation Thursday. “It was great.”
“Watching the way he’s moving now, there’s a confidence,” Thibodeau said. “[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he’s there now. He feels great, and that’s the most important thing.”
He said Rose is “running, lifting, playing and shooting. His day is full.”
Rose missed the entire 2012-13 NBA season while nursing a torn ACL. Despite calls for him to to return, especially during the playoffs, he elected to remain on the sidelines.
At only 24, it made sense for him to not risk further injury and therefore his future by playing if he didn’t feel entirely comfortable. At the same time, his image took a brutal hit by not coming back for the playoffs.
Right or wrong, Chicago fans wanted Rose to play. Players like Iman Shumpert—who injured his ACL the same day Rose did—and Ricky Rubio returned from their injuries, why couldn’t he?
Rose’s case wasn’t helped along by the Bulls, who spent the entire postseason battered beyond belief.
Luol Deng was hospitalized, Kirk Hinrich could barely move, Nate Robinson played while vomiting and Joakim Noah was operating on one foot. All of them still played, or at least attempted to. Rose didn’t. The so-called superstar didn’t come to the rescue of his teammates and give them something more to play for. How do you recover from that?
By being yourself during the 2013-14 campaign.
I was always of the mind that Rose should have pulled the David Lee, suited up at home, taken the court and inspired the crowd. He was cleared to play, there was no harm in logging a minute or two or 10.
That’s just not enough to write him off or disparage his character, though. His decision not to play wasn’t LeBron James’ decision of 2010. If he was scared, he was scared. If he wasn’t, he wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. For whatever reason, he didn’t play. That was the reality.
Now it’s up to him to back his decision, to prove that the “extra” time off put him in a position to come back and dominate. Leading the Bulls back toward contention changes everything. His absence this past season will be forgotten. All will be forgiven. The legend that was supposed to be Derrick Rose will live on.
Should he fail to put up Rose-like numbers—say at least 20 points and seven assists (and I’m being generous)—then there will be a problem. Speculation will run rampant, like an unsuspecting friend you slipped a laxative to, who is now dashing for the bathroom. That’s how fast the world will be ready to turn on Rose—again.
Most pretend to adore feel-good stories. On some level though, people are waiting for players in Rose’s position to fail. Not everyone outside of Chicago will be heartbroken if Rose can’t return to form. Out of spite, some may even be hoping that he can’t. Of course, that will be far from everyone. At least in this case.
Rose was glorified before going doing down. He was quietly dazzling, one of the most humble players the league had to offer. Even after missing the entire season he can still be that player, the one who was revered for his work ethic. He can still be Derrick Rose again.
If you ask Thibs, he already is.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.