Bulls practice on Sunday can be called "the day after." The day after Derrick Rose tore his ACL and was declared out for the rest of the season. The day after Bulls fans felt the championship rug pulled out from underneath them. And the day after Bulls players prayed for their injured brother before getting back to work.
Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that everybody feels bad for Rose because he's not just a great player but a great teammate. But, he also added, "It's not a death sentence."
Most people have written the Bulls off without Rose, but his teammates are using that as motivation. John Lucas III, who visited Rose at the hospital Saturday, says they have more incentive than ever to win it all.
"We've been proving people wrong all season," said Lucas. "We want to play hard because that's what Derrick would want us to do. We want to make not just the city of Chicago proud but Derrick proud as well."
The players gave themselves their own pep talk before Sunday's practice. We don't know what was said but you can bet it followed the lines Kyle Korver wrote on his Facebook page Saturday night:
Right about now, the disbelief has faded, anger has subsided and were all wondering Why? Why. Why. Why Derrick, again? Derrick is more than an MVP to our team. Hes our friend, our brother he inspires us to be the very best we can be, just by who he is and how hard he plays. That he has spent so much time this year hurt was frustrating. Now that he is out for the rest of the season, well its just plain sad. No one is to blame; what happened, did. We send him our prayers, our love, our good wishes that he heals and comes back stronger, better, healthier than ever before.
Bulls fans. Now is not the time to ask why or to get bitter. Now is the time to refocus and ask How are we going to win this Championship? We have the best Team in the league. This season has proven we are a TEAM and it has taken us ALL to have the best record. Lets focus on whats ahead. This is an incredible opportunity for All of Us to step up and make it happen. Were all gonna have to work harder and smarter. We are all gonna have to believe in ourselves. That we are more than the sum of our parts. We need YOU to believe with Us. We need You to believe for Us. We are going to keep going strong. One quarter, one game, one round at a time. Until its over. Thats how were gonna do it.
Yes, it's cliche in a win-one-for-the-Gipper sort of way, but that's all the Bulls can do right now. Take it one game at a time. Until it's over.