CHICAGO -- Nothing that happens to Derrick Rose these days is "minor" anymore.
Any time the 25-year-old takes a wrong step, or comes down the floor with a grimace, the entire basketball world, especially in Chicago, comes to a halt. That's what happened again Monday night when Rose was taken out of the game late, and that's what will continue to happen the rest of the season. The entire organization, not to mention the entire city, knows that if Rose goes down for any length of time the Bulls' championship aspirations go down with him. That's why it was so interesting to see the normally tight-lipped Tom Thibodeau come out right away and say that Rose's hamstring issue was "minor."
Given how deflated the city was when Rose injured his left knee a year and a half ago, and how upset many fans were when Rose never played last season even after being cleared, the organization obviously wants to allay everyone's fears before another Rose injury narrative spins out of control.
The problem for the Bulls is that their new reality is different. No matter how transparent they are with their fan base, many will assume the worst when it comes to Rose. What's also clear is that Rose's fragile status is hanging on his teammates' mind. They saw him dominate in the preseason and hoped he would be fine, but they know in the back of their minds that if he goes down for any length of time they are in trouble.
"You don't want to see that," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "He's just got to keep doing what he's doing. Things are going to happen whether it's now, whether it's the end of the year. You just got to take care of yourself and hope for the best."
Carlos Boozer echoed those sentiments.
"We'll obviously keep an eye on [the situation]," he said. "Because our whole thing this season is the long run of the season. Right now it's still -- what are we in Week 2 of the NBA season? So hopefully it's not that serious, but we'd like him to be healthy just for him. He had a tough year last year, a lot of pressure on him, you guys are all over him this year. Give the kid a break, he did a lot of stuff that's great for us. Us, as his teammates, we got his back and we support him every day. Hopefully it's not that bad of an injury."
Boozer and the Bulls just don't know for sure, though. All they know is that Rose is struggling again and they aren't sure what they can do to keep him on the floor.
"Any time you lose any player I think it's a setback," Deng said. "Whoever's healthy, we just got to keep playing. It's really a long season, and I said it before, we're not in no panicking mode. We just got to keep working and we'll get better."
What's next: Rose will be re-evaluated by the Bulls' medical staff. The Bulls are off Tuesday and are expected to practice again on Wednesday. Many players, and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, are expected to attend the Champions Classic at the United Center.
"He's still great. Obviously missing as much basketball as he's missed, he'll always be working on his timing and stuff like that in terms of the pace of the game. But he's just as deadly, he's just as explosive in my opinion as he was before, if not more so, because he has confidence. We don't look at Derrick Rose as anything but getting better than what he was in the past."
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