Wins, healthy Rose will ease Bulls' tension

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
1:33
PM CT
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Maybe Joakim Noah should take a break from his Chicago violence outreach to help squash the really important West Side beef in the news: The Chicago Bulls vs. Derrick Rose's "people."

The lingering soap opera between Rose, his management team and the Bulls went prime-time Thursday in a Chicago Sun-Times story that illustrated the inner squabbles that occurred when a superstar went down and a franchise's grand plans went for naught.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose returning to form will do wonders for any lingering tension between his camp and the Bulls front office.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does an NBA team. No Derrick Rose the past two seasons meant plenty of time to focus on the backstage politicking of guys who aren't named Derrick Rose.

This story, with all its ego, competing agendas and muddled messaging, is interesting and worth monitoring.

But given that Rose isn't going anywhere in the near future, the only thing that truly matters on Aug. 1, 2014, is that Rose is playing his tail off for the U.S. national team with an eye on reclaiming his paused career this season.

Rose is certainly due some good fortune after two knee injuries in three seasons.

Maybe the Sun-Times story, which angered chairman Jerry Reinsdorf so much that his people sent out an over-the-top, thesaurus-friendly reaction, will finally force everyone to sort out some simmering, behind-the-scenes tensions, especially between agent B.J. Armstrong, Derrick's older brother/manager Reggie Rose and the Bulls management team.

Maybe they already have talked it out, with Noah listening intently and humming some Bob Marley.

Or maybe everyone acts like Rose and just ignores the situation and goes about their business.

Every team has internal problems. The Michael Jordan Bulls won six titles around serious squabbles.

Winning cures what is ailing the Bulls. In Rose's case, simply playing would do the trick.

As Rose said himself at the U.S. camp in Las Vegas, he needs to relax from the pressure he's under and let the game come back to him.

Rose just needs to play basketball like the youngest MVP in league history. There's no image makeover like splitting a double team for a dunk. You don't need to call a press conference to explain it.

Given that Rose's real agent, Arn Tellem, is friends with Reinsdorf, I don't think a rift affects Rose's present status with the team, though the future is certainly unwritten.

Rose respects coach Tom Thibodeau, so that's not a problem. He likes his teammates, and hey, he even recruited Pau Gasol.

The Bulls are a championship contender, in theory, and there is much to look forward to this season.

As Rose told the Sun-Times, "It's a new beginning."

That's good news. Rose was in an unfortunate situation the past couple years. He didn't get to enjoy his post-MVP season, a truncated mess that saw him nursing minor injuries until his ACL blew up in his first playoff game.

Then he misses a season, which was more controversial than it should have been because of an embarrassing lack of communication between his management team, the Bulls and himself.

Then he tears a ligament in his other knee 10 games into his return.

Before the injuries hit, Noah said, "You never hear anybody say anything bad about Pooh, you know."

That sure changed the past two years. Chicago abhors an injured superstar.

I can't speak for Rose, but how was he supposed to learn to lead on the bench? How was he supposed to grow?

Rose will be 26 when this season begins, and if you're a human being who likes watching Rose run and jump, you hope that the "dark period of time" he spoke about in Las Vegas is over.

I don't blame his management team for being overly protective of him, especially when it came to his knee two years ago.

I don't blame the Bulls if they were mad that Rose didn't communicate his plans to them or that he didn't recruit Carmelo Anthony to their liking -- even though I think that whole idea, players recruiting superstars like they're 17 again, is idiotic and overblown by reporters. I also thought whoever leaked the story that Rose didn't know Anthony was coming to Chicago did Derrick a great disservice while trying to dis the Bulls.

But forget all that nonsense. With Rose healthy, everyone, from Armstrong to Paxson, should have the same goal in mind: No. 1 dominating and the Bulls advancing deep in the playoffs.

Once Rose gets back on the court, then we can all finally focus on the important things, like Thibodeau playing Rose too many minutes in the regular season.

Won't that be a relief?

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.

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