LAS VEGAS -- When Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first playoff game of the postseason on April 28 against the Philadelphia 76ers, it didn't just end his hopes at a championship this season -- it ended his dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal for Team USA as well.
Rose, the starting point guard for the USA team that won the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, was expected to play a major role for Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski as the Americans prepared for the London Olympics. Now, Rose will be forced to watch the Olympics on television as he continues to rehab from his knee injury. His would-be Olympic teammates feel terrible about his situation.
"I feel so bad for him, man," Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said after Team USA's first practice Friday afternoon. "An unfortunate injury; I wish it never happened to him. I wish he could be here with us, but it's given us more motivation to try and win it for him. We know that he belongs here, along with a few other guys as well ... hopefully, we get it done for him."
That was the sentiment shared throughout the gym. While Rose, who arrived in the Los Angeles area on Monday to continue his rehab, tries to work his way back, player after player empathized with the former MVP's plight.
"Yes, I do," Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "But now I can just wish him health and hopefully he's taking his time and not rushing his recovery. He's a fantastic player as we all know, so I just hope he's taking his time and I know he wishes he could be here as we all do (for him), but he's really got to take his time. He's got a long career ahead of himself so hopefully, he won't rush his road back."
Krzyzewski, who said he has left several messages for Rose, wishes the Chicago product could be on the floor with his team.
"Derrick was our starting guard in the World Championships and aside from being one of the top players in the NBA, he's one of the really good guys," the Hall of Fame coach said. "Just that big, strong, athletic guard that you need, especially in international competition. So, hopefully, his recovery is going well."
Durant knows that Rose's presence will be missed, both on and off the floor.
"Just another athletic guard that can mix it up from the one and the two, that can guard full court, that can penetrate and dish," Durant said. "But we got to worry about the guys that we have here. It's tough not having D-Rose here, just having him around, (he's) a great teammate. Playing with him (on) the 2010 team, he sacrificed a lot, he's a team player, ultimate team guy, so humble, a joy to be around. It's unfortunate that he's not here, but we got a lot of guys here that's going to fill the void."
Durant, along with Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, were just a few of the guys Rose worked out with in the summer over the past few years. They know it's been tough for Rose to sit and watch.
"I definitely feel for him," Love said. "He was working hard to be a part of this squad, so for him to not be here today, especially with the injury that he has, it saddens a lot of guys here because we know that D-Rose would have been a valuable piece to this team."
Love knows that Rose's void will be tough to fill, but like the rest of his teammates, he remained confident that Team USA could still win gold in London.
"Everything he brings to the table," Love said, when asked what they'd miss without Rose on the roster. "He's an MVP-caliber player year in and year out. He's a heady point guard, he's really explosive, defensively he's great, so he's a guy that can really fill it up and he just kind of fits the mold for Team USA."
While Bryant never has torn an ACL in his knee, a fact he noted by knocking a clenched fist on his head for luck, he feels for the type of rehab Rose is going through, having dealt with plenty of injuries of his own.
"Sure," Bryant said. "I think it was the World Games that were coming up that I had to miss because I had my knee scoped and you miss all the energy that the guys are having, the fun that they're having, the competitiveness in practice and in games and you miss that and you wish you could be a part of it. Hopefully the next time the Olympics rolls around, he'll have his opportunity."
To that point, Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo said that Rose will have a chance to continue to be a part of the national team as long he wants to.
"Derrick has been a terrific USA basketball guy," Colangelo said. "And depending on his interest, we certainly want to keep him involved as long as he wants to be."
Like the rest of his staff, Colangelo couldn't believe that Rose went down.
"I felt terrible at the time," Colangelo recalled. "Derrick is such a great kid and such a competitor. When you're in world competition and you're representing your country, you want a lot of guys around you in a foxhole that you really can count on. Derrick Rose is one of those guys.
"It was such an unusual injury, it wasn't a collision, it wasn't anything other than, it gave way. Hopefully he can come back and come back better than ever."