Former Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose was open to getting some minutes Friday at his old stomping grounds at the United Center.
The New York Knicks were winning with Rose glued to the bench, and he wasn’t going to upset the Big Apple, even for a chance to feel the love of Bulls fans.
“It would be cool, but at the same time the team is playing, I don’t want to ruin the rhythm they have right now,” Rose said before the game. “If we had lost, maybe things would have been different. But we’re playing great basketball right now, so I don’t want to break that rhythm.”
Rose appeared unlikely to appear in the Knicks’ 114-91 win over the Bulls, their sixth straight win and Chicago’s second in three days.
The crowd started chanting for him with five minutes left and Rose ran out of the tunnel about 90 seconds later to the applause of the rest of the fans. The United center rose as he hit a jumper to “MVP” chants. It was a slap in the face to the Bulls, who committed 20 turnovers and played sloppy all night.
Rose’s return to his hometown is always something Bulls fans on the West Side look forward to, and this week the NBA schedulers treated him to a pair of games at UCLA with an off day in between.
But the Simeon product said he didn’t make the rounds in Chicago, preferring to stay in his hotel room to run errands and catch up with old friends, including former Tribune writer Sam Smith.
“I saw Chicago,” Rose said.
Chicago never got tired of seeing him, and the crowd gave Rose a warm welcome on Friday. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he “hopes that one day Rose will have his number retired and his jersey hung in the rafters.”
“Did he (rubber) stamp it?” Roz said with a laugh. “Then they should do it if Tibbs said so.”
I asked Rose if he ever thought about it actually happening. He said it would be “dope” but only thinks about it when someone asks him.
“Yeah, it wouldn’t be a big deal for me, but for my family to see it and for the people who have supported me all these years to be a part of it, it would be cool,” he said. “I know the love I got, whether it’s here or somewhere else, that’s all I need.”
Thibodeau went further and said that Rose deserved to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Rose didn’t want to dream about it.
“Who wouldn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame one day?” he said. “But there are several (of) ways to look at it. I would greatly appreciate it, but at the same time, can anyone here name a famous gladiator?’
We’re back with Spartacus and Conan the Barbarian. But of course Rose was asking a rhetorical question.
“In 200-300 years, nobody will be interested in what is happening,” he continued. “For me, the knowledge, wisdom, love and capital that I have gained from this sport has allowed me to do a lot and I am very grateful and appreciative of that. What I want to do after basketball, I feel is going to be more than what I do in basketball.”
“It’s a lot of things,” he replied. “But I don’t want to like Jinx it right now or give someone my blueprint for what I’m doing. But there are a lot of things that I will be doing.”
At 34 years old and playing a secondary role with the Knicks, Rose’s career is certainly much closer to the end than the beginning. However, he said he has no intention of leaving anytime soon and feels he has a lot more left on the court.
Rose once mentioned that he was going to be like Tom Brady and continue playing into his 40s. He liked the fact that Brady was still going after retiring briefly last offseason and then changing his mind.
“Tom will still be there until they kick him out too,” Rose said. “Yes, I feel healthy. … I feel like I’m healthy enough to play. I can still add something to the team.”
Rose said he was “adapting” to his new role, but was glad to at least be replaced by someone in the role of Miles “Two” McBride who deserved the promotion.
“I’m just happy that I didn’t lose because of the way I played or get benched because of the way I played,” Rose said. “I was benched because (Thibadeau) wanted to see what Deuce looked like, and he’s a younger guy coming into the rotation.
“So how can I hate it? That’s how I looked at it.”
Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng last summer accompanied a group of Simeon players to Senegal, a trip that not only showed how much they cared about teaching the kids about their African heritage, but also showcased the camaraderie between the former Bulls teammates.
“Facts,” Rose said of their friendship. “And it’s not fake. As with Joe, it’s about so much more than basketball. Luol, he’s like James Bond in a way. You do not know where he is and in which countries. It just pops up. And everyone is used to it.”
Rose asked the writers if they had seen the new documentary about former tennis player Yannick Noah, Joakim’s father. No one saw. Rose gave a thumbs up, saying the film shows that everything in life happens for a reason.
“It’s not a coincidence, I’ll just say that,” he said. “Everything that happened was meant to happen, and the relationship we formed was meant to be formed. So it was perfect.”
Life goes on and teammates go their separate ways. This is the world of sports.
But some friendships last forever, and that’s the legacy Rose, Noah and Dan hope to leave in Chicago.