- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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"[I] just got to fight through it," he said before the game. "They always say the great players find a way, and I want to be great. It's something I've just got to fight through. It's not stopping me."
Rose injured his left big toe during the first quarter of Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves when Anthony Tolliver fell on him and jammed it into the floor. Initially, Rose said he had turf toe, an injury he's been dealing with since his second year in the league. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said it was simply a sprain.
"[Bulls' doctors] just said it was a sprain," Rose said. "I have turf toe, but that's all it is. Turf toe is just like a hyper-extended toe just like you hyper-extend your arm or knee or something. Turf toe is nothing but a sprain."
Rose was upbeat before the game but he didn't move as quickly during pregame warmups as usual. He spent some time in the Bulls locker room switching the insoles of his shoes, trying to find a way to take some of the pressure of the toe.
"It definitely hurts," he said. "But it's just my toe. I think I should be all right."
Rose couldn't help but have a sense of humor about the entire situation.
"I'll probably lose a step," he said with a laugh. "But this is just preparing me for when I get old."
While Rose is confident he will be fine, he did admit that he isn't sure how the toe will respond once the game starts.
"We'll have to see when I get on the court," he said. "I ran around a little bit out there, but I know when my adrenaline gets going, I know I'm going to forget all about my toe.
Rose said missing Wednesday's game against the Washington Wizards caught him off-guard.
"I was very surprised when I woke up the next morning and I couldn't walk," he said. "That was something that scared me. I went to go get X-rays on it, all the X-rays were negative, saying it wasn't a fracture or I didn't do anything else to it. It was just like a jam, or me hyper-extending my toe, so it was all right."
The 23-year-old reigning MVP does not like shots, so he said he would be taking a pill before the game to combat the pain. When asked if it would be an over-the-counter pain medication, like he took on Tuesday night after the initial injury, Rose laughed.
"Probably a little bit something stronger," he said. "But I will see."
Rose, who is averaging 20.7 points and 8.6 assists, has sat out just seven games in three-plus seasons and has missed consecutive games once in his career. He was out four games in March 2010 with a sprained wrist after colliding with the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.
With Rose banged up, the Bulls called up veteran guard Mike James from the D-League on Wednesday. James, 36, played one minute in his Bulls debut on Wednesday but could play a larger role on Friday.
"C.J. is very, very close and Rip did more shooting today, and he's feeling pretty good. But C.J. is closer than Rip," Thibodeau said.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
12hSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann