INDIANAPOLIS—Injured superstar Derrick Rose sat on the bench during a game for the first time he tore his ACL last April, but Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau downplayed its significance after his team’s 97-92 loss Sunday night against the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We talked about it from the beginning. The reason he’s been in back is because he’s been working in back. There’s stuff that he’s been doing back there and now he’s not doing that as much. He’s doing more before the games, so that part’s taken care of. It’s the next step. He may not even be out there all the time,” he said. “If he wants to come out, great. if he doesn’t, that’s fine, too. Again, his focus has to be on the rehab. The team has to focus on our improvement and our next game, so at some point, he’ll be ready to go.”
Rose, dressed in a suit and sitting alongside the coaching staff, could be seen giving advice to his teammates and encouraging them throughout the contest, often on his feet during the back-and-forth affair.
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“It was great. I know that it’s tough for him to be on the bench because I know how bad that he wants to play, but it feels good to have him out there,” All-Star center Joakim Noah said. “It’s really good to have him on the bench and be a part of it.”
Teammate Jimmy Butler added: “It’s great because he sees things that a lot of guys don’t see, being a point guard and being there watching the game. It definitely helps to have him being in your ear, have him more inside and pushing because he’s still giving his energy and his say-so from the sideline. The main thing was be aggressive, don’t be afraid to shoot it, attack the basket, things of that nature. It’s crazy because he’d tell me whenever the screen was coming when we were playing defense in front of him and in front of the bench. I heard him talking to plenty of other guys, not just me.”
Rose talked casually to the handful of Chicago reporters in the visiting locker room at the arena after the game and expressed how excited he was to be back on the bench and on the floor during an NBA game, in general, though it might not be a nightly occurrence moving forward.