9:35 AM CDT, March 11, 2013
The Bulls said the decision to return from ACL surgery on his left knee is up to Derrick Rose.
The team also said it wouldn’t pressure Rose to return.
But yet, the story the Bulls planted last week in an online report felt oily and appeared to run counter to both points.
An unnamed Bulls source emphasized that Rose’s medical clearance had been weeks’ old and the comment seemed to be shaped in a way to create precisely the kind of pressure the Bulls said they were not applying.
Are the Bulls playing dirty with their best player?
Are they lying about leaving it all up to Rose?
Or are they just plain duplicitous?
All could be argued persuasively amid a sputtering team, a constipated offense and a roster of injuries.
Now the unseemly storyline includes Rose’s telling a network sideline reporter that his hamstrings are “on fire’’ after his full-court scrimmages. This news comes after Rose said his biggest obstacle was exploding for a dunk off his left knee.
So, now the Bulls leak a story that makes them appear as if Rose should’ve already returned to save everybody.
Look, if the decision is solely Rose’s, then the team should just shut up, named and unnamed sources alike. Leave it at Tom Thibodeau’s saying everything is on schedule and Rose will play when he plays.
But this looks like the Bulls backdoored their best player out of an impatience they indicated wouldn’t be a factor. Whether the source who planted the story meant to, the Bulls created some public enmity to rain down on their star. Idiotic and embarrassing.
This chatter about Rose and questions of mental and physical toughness sound like the Luol Deng mess several years ago. Deng was painted as mentally weak in a Bulls news release, no less. The ham-handed team didn’t use those exact words, but that’s how it was interpreted. I doubt you could find a person today who believes that’s true of a guy who has played through a wrist injury for more than a year.
Why would the Bulls seem to put their best player -- their only hope of winning another title soon -- in that light?
Maybe the Bulls think they’re playing tough love with Rose, driving home the point that the way to play at "110 percent"’ is to actually play. If so, their execution seems as miserable as the team’s offense.
Rose’s tweets late last week would indicate he’s hurt, if not also angry. Our Bulls Guy K.C. Johnson cited sources close to Rose that indicated the Bulls’ superstar was caught off-guard by a story that could be viewed as pressure to play.
Rose, who almost never tweets, posted several of them the day before the story with the unnamed Bulls source was posted. Seems like Rose knew something was coming.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman told the Tribune’s Fred Mitchell there is no rift between the team and player, which is what you expect a wonk to say when his name is attached to it.
But if the communication between the team and Rose has been so good, as Forman contended, then why did Rose react as if he was hurt and/or mad?
Rose’s tweets specifically noted that his family has his back, one major subtext being the Bulls are stabbing him in the back. That’s my interpretation, and I don’t think I’m alone.
Why would a team hose its young star like that? Maybe it’s an unintended consequence of the Bulls’ attempt at a hurry-up offense, but it’s a consequence nonetheless, and it’ll be known among NBA players.
I mean, Rose supported Vinny Stinkin’ Del Negro and Keith Bogans, and this is how the Bulls return that loyalty? You can hear that kind of talk going around NBA locker rooms, can’t you?
Betcha big-name free agents can’t wait to come here to get the same treatment.
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