“MVP”, “MVP”, “MVP” cheered the Chicago crowd as the Bulls hometown star returned to the court for the first time since November 18th. It wasn’t the exact homecoming that everyone wanted, but it was the one that Derrick Rose, and Chicago, needed.
“I’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” said Rose when he discussed returning to the United Center Saturday. “If this was a couple of weeks ago, I probably would’ve been emotional. But right now, it feels great. We won the game. That’s the only thing I could be happy about.”
Rose did not stop there. Just as he continued to showcase himself to the crowd on the court, he talked about the importance of this game to the city and all its inhabitants.
“You know here in Chicago, it’s kind of like basketball is everything. You know you go down South, football is everything. But here, you can go to a high school game and won’t be able to get in because it’s so packed. So for this event to be here, you saw Jabari (Parker), Tim Hardaway Jr., all the players that were in town, they made an appearance to come up here and show their face.”
“They love the game,” he said. “I probably won’t get any sleep tonight. I’m exited, man, for the city. This is huge for us.”
Rose wanted to do more for the crowd but he knew that he had to stay within himself. While has has been working intently to be a better and smarter player when he returns this season, he won’t let the crowds cheers influence him.
“When I was out there, they wanted me to shoot every ball. But I’m playing the way that I normally play in the tryouts—push the ball, play defense and get guys shots. When a shot is available, take the shot. I think that’s what I did tonight. I had one or two turnovers but that can be easily changed.”
Just by looking at Rose you can tell he is in great condition. The quotes about him playing well are not just hear say. He’s taking a new a approach to the game, himself, and how he will move forward off the court to be sure he is prepared.
“I’m learning how to take care of my body a little bit more, preparing myself, like I’ve been preparing for this a couple of weeks ago, and just trying to really eat right and get rest, get off of my feet because in New York, we have two important games. And when we’re overseas, we have like three games or five games in some crazy nights. I don’t know the number of nights, but we’re playing three games back-to-back, so just got to make sure we’re prepared for it as a team.”
Seven points, four rebounds and two assist may not have been the breakout game that everyone was hoping for, but it was enough to show that Rose is indeed comfortable with himself and his his style of play. With so many scorers on Team USA Rose has the luxury of being able to take a back seat with scoring and just facilitate. Not only will that pay dividends now by creating open looks for his teammates, but it will also takes the stress of having to score- something he’ll do often this upcoming season- off him so that he is comfortable and rested when the 2014-2015 NBA season begins.
“All summer long I think he’s gotten more comfortable,” said Chicago Bulls head coach and Team U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau. “He went through the comeback last year and learned a lot from it. I love the way he’s playing. He’s finding the rhythm of the game and he’s playing to his strengths.”
Team USA’s next game is this Wednesday in New York City, NY at Madison Sqaure Garden versus the Dominican Republic. After that they’ll play Puerto Rico Friday at MSG before making their travel to Spain to begin international play. Not only does this week give Bulls fans a chance to see how well Rose can be within a tight schedule, but it provides a glimpse into what many hope is a long season.