The bond between Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls teammates is not easily broken. The back-to-back season knee injuries Rose has suffered aside, his teammates remain fully in his corner even after this week when the All-Star guard raised some eyebrows when he asserted his mind is on his future health and not just the Bulls’ NBA title aspirations of this season.
“Look, I think that’s a fair concern for everybody,” Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy told ESPN following a team practice on Wednesday. “It’s a big topic now in sports, especially in football with concussions and things like that. It goes the same with basketball. You know different types of injuries and things like that. There’s certainly more to life than it. At the end of the day, look, Derrick’s fully committed. He’s fully committed the way I see him working, the way I see him out there. You know it’s a little bit different viewpoint, but as far as his commitment to us, the city, the team, that should never be put in question.”
Veteran forward Pau Gasol has been in a Bulls’ uniform all of eight games, and has only played alongside Rose in just half of those. Still, the youngest MVP in league history has left an indelible impression on him.
“I heard a couple things from people, not directly reading from the outlets, but obviously he’s concerned about his long-term health, which we all are in a way, but we’re in a business, we’re in a sport, where that’s what’s at stake and that’s a commitment that we make, and a price that we pay,” Gasol said. “It’s something that any athlete is exposed to, but I think he’s a guy that works extremely hard. He works hard, and I think he’s 100 percent committed to winning and to this team. But in the make of his mind, he’s had a rough stretch, so you understand that part.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he thinks Rose trepidations are as much psychological as they are physical, given all the adversity he is seeking to bounce back from, including the ankles sprains that have sidelined him for half the team’s games this season.
“I think this: I know Derrick, and I know he wants to play,” Thibodeau said, after witnessing Rose explode for 24 points and seven assists in his return against Detroit this week. “You have to take a look at what he’s just gone through. It’s been 2½ long years, two major injuries. So, there’s a lot going on there. When you sprain both your ankles, you have to do what you think is right. As I said, if he’s healthy, he should play. And I think he understands that. Derrick wants to win. We’ve got a good group.”[Photo Credit: Keith Allison]