AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Detroit Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks spoke for the entire NBA before Wednesday night's contest against the Chicago Bulls in feeling empathy toward Derrick Rose after yet another season-ending knee injury.
"He's a great player," Cheeks said. "He was an MVP. The way he plays the game with such passion, regardless of where he's from. It doesn't matter where he's from. He plays the game with such passion, and when you lose a player like that the team and the city [suffer and] just the NBA itself.
"When you lose a player like that, it's a blow. It's a blow for everyone because we all look forward to seeing him out there. Just the way that he plays and the humbleness he has as a person. You just hate to see something like that."
As a Chicago native himself, Cheeks knows the impact the loss of Rose has on the city. But as Cheeks noted, the loss of the 25-year-old star is felt much farther than just in Chicago.
"I've only been around him a little bit," Cheeks said. "But the humbleness with which he carries himself makes it even tougher when you see a guy go down like that."
As for whether or not Rose can return to being the player he was before the two knee surgeries, Cheeks doesn't want to speculate.
"I don't know," Cheeks said. "I can't speak for that because I've never had an injury like that and I was never a player of his caliber, so I don't know. I just know he's a great player and it's unfortunate he's been hurt the last couple years.
"And I wish him well because he's a credit to our league and to playing the game, so I just wish he gets back."
Rose or not, Bulls are still the Bulls: One thing Cheeks was sure of is that the Bulls would still play tough whether or not Rose is on the floor.
"With Derrick Rose playing or not playing, they play hard every night," Cheeks said. "They defend and they do the things that help them win ballgames, so when you play a Chicago team you always know they're going to be well prepared and you know you got to play your best to try and win. With or without the players they have in the lineup it doesn't change.
"When you first hear the news of a player of Derrick Rose's caliber [being seriously injured] and you know you're going to play them you can have a [moment of thought]. You're like, 'Pshh, Derrick Rose is not playing.'
"But you know the team that they're going to put out on the floor is going to compete and compete at a high level."
The last word: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, while discussing trade rumors: "You guys all have your job to do, which is stir it up. And we'll do what we do: lock in."