No sense blaming Bulls fans if they’re starting to get anxious for Derrick Rose’s return.
It was Rose’s shoe company, Adidas, that created an ad campaign and web documentary titled, “The Return.” Rose’s rehab, recovery and return to the court were shown bringing the city back to life.
The final scene of the television ad, where Rose trots out of the tunnel at the United Center as fans cheer, most people probably didn’t picture that moment happening in the 2013-14 preseason opener.
Thursday marks the 10-month anniversary of Rose’s torn ACL and the same opponent, Philadelphia, will be back at the UC.
With the game on TNT, this would be an ideal time to make a big splash, but there’s no telling whether Rose will play Thursday, two weeks from now or seven months from now.
When practice ended at the Berto Center on Wednesday, Rose had a long conversation with coach Tom Thibodeau, then went back to shooting 3-pointers. “We were talking about basketball,” Thibodeau said when asked about the discussion. “We talk every day.”
The team is certainly missing Rose these days. After a quality start to the season, the Bulls seem to be worn down by a tough schedule, heavy travel and injuries to key players such as Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.
The Bulls have gone 4-8 this month, which simply accentuates the obvious: NBA teams don’t hustle their way to 62 wins. Superstars make the biggest difference.
On Wednesday, Thibodeau wasn’t ready to accept excuses.
“We knew going in what the circumstances were going to be this year,” he said. “We had no idea. There was no timetable. There was no date where we were saying, ‘OK, he’s going to be back this day.’ It’s when he’s ready. We knew that going in.
“We can’t allow that to be an excuse for us not getting the job done. We’ve shown that we’re capable and we’re obviously capable of playing better than we have recently.”
As he was asked about Rose, Thibodeau used the familiar line about how the Bulls can never accurately simulate the intensity of an NBA game during practice.
That seems to underscore the idea that Rose will never reach his stated goal of feeling 110 percent healthy until he returns to game action, even on a limited basis.
The truth is, only Rose knows how he’s feeling these days. Team doctors and Bulls management will defer to Rose’s opinion when it comes to recovery from an injury this serious.
“He’ll know when he’s ready and we’ll know when he’s ready,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve just got to be patient.”
On the opposite side of the Adidas-fueled anticipation are the comments by Rose’s older brother Reggie. He complained about the Bulls’ lack of action toward finding a complementary scorer when the trade deadline passed Feb. 21.
If Rose ended up sitting out the entire season, which he has acknowledged is a possibility, will people see that as a knock on the Bulls or his teammates?
Maybe, but don’t forget, Rose hasn’t been off on his own these past 10 months. Since the season began, he has been a regular at the Berto Center and has been traveling to road games since January.
The bond between Rose and his teammates is strong. That’s not likely to change because of comments made by a relative, even if he is a close adviser. Insiders suggest Rose’s return probably will come with little warning. The decision is likely to happen on game day.
Will it be the next game day? For now, fans better stick to the waiting game.
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