Scottie Pippen defends Derrick Rose

Updated: June 17, 2013, 7:52 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose didn't deserve to be criticized by fans for sitting out the entire 2012-13 season while rehabbing from a torn ACL in his left knee, Bulls Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen said.

"I was kind of surprised people turned on him knowing the difficulty of Derrick's injury," Pippen said at Nike's basketball pro-am at Whitney Young High School on Saturday. "No one can justify what he's going through. No one can make his decision as to when to get back on the basketball court. I thought he took a little bit of a hit for it.

"As a player that has played this game, I know at the end of the day I've had numerous amount of surgeries, and the doctors released me at numerous amount of times to go and play. But a lot of those times didn't mean go and play against the best in the world right now, but to get yourself ready to compete again. Sometimes as a player, you're not there yet. The doctor can tell you the headache is gone, but he don't totally know that it is gone unless he can get in your head."

Rose suffered the injury during last season's playoffs and was originally expected back this past season. He was medically cleared and started practicing in five-on-five situations in mid-February. Rose and the Bulls left open the possibility of his return until they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

Rose received criticism late in the season by some fans, media and NBA commentators for not coming back while other Bulls players played through injuries.

Pippen said he understands why the fans became impatient and expected Rose back this past season, but he believes that Rose and the Bulls did what was best for everyone's future.

"Fans are demanding," Pippen said. "They want to win. They want it now. If you have an injury, they want you back the next day. It was a process.

"We were all hoping that things would have worked out, but it didn't work out that way. But there's no reason to start to doubt or have any negative activity about Derrick because he was not able to come back this season. I think you just have to look ahead and believe that it was the right decision as a whole, for him, for the organization, and we have to move on."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told ESPNChicago.com last week that Rose resembled his old self in recent workouts.

"Watching the way he's moving now, there's a confidence," Thibodeau said. "[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he's there now. He feels great, and that's the most important thing."

Pippen is confident that Rose will return to his MVP form.

"I don't have any doubt," Pippen said. "Derrick is a very determined, hardworking player, so I don't have any doubt he will be back bigger and better as ever."

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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