Teammates support Rose's right to decide
February, 15, 2013
By Nick Friedell
HOUSTON -- Chicago Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah made it very clear Friday where he and his teammates stand on whether or not Derrick Rose should play this season.
The emotional leader of the Bulls said that he didn't want to put any pressure on Rose and only wanted the former MVP to come back if he was “100 percent.” He wasn't taken aback Wednesday night when Rose stated he “won't mind” sitting out the season if he doesn't really feel he is physically and mentally ready to play.
"It hasn't changed the whole time," Noah said. "It's always been the same thing. I don't understand why you guys are making a big deal out of it. It's always been that. He's always said that if I'm not 100 percent I'm not coming back and we know that for him to come back he needs to be 100 percent, there's no question about it. We don't want him to come back if he's not 100 percent. He needs to be healthy; there's obviously a bigger picture than just him coming back, it's about coming back and being able to play and be healthy."
All-Star forward and Bulls teammate Luol Deng echoed those sentiments.
"People are making the decision (based) on how we're playing and I keep saying it shouldn't be like that," Deng said. "The decision should be ‘How does Derrick feel?' If we were having a bad season and we were losing everyone would say Derrick should rest and think about the long run. But it almost feels like a little bit of selfishness and a little bit of greed in the fact that we're doing well so you want to add a little sugar into it and win it all. But at the same time we got to understand that, like Jo said, it's the long run, it's the bigger picture. It's not about 30 or 40 games left."
Deng understands that while it may be tough for Rose to re-adjust to the league, that shouldn't matter nearly as much as if Rose is ready to come back this season. Rose has been traveling with the Bulls since the first of the year.
"It will always be a challenge," Deng said. "But as hard as he's working I don't doubt that he's going to be, I believe he's going to be better than he was before. I think that this is a little bump on the road that's going to make him better and every competitor, every great player that goes through injury, they always push themselves to come back better and I think he will."
So how does Rose look in practice to his teammates?
"I see him, he looks OK, he looks fine," Noah said. "But it's not on me to say, it's not on any coaches to say, it's not on the media to say, it's on him. And I respect his decision either way because I know how bad he wants to come out there, but he has to be smart."