Since this isn’t last season, when Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was the unofficial spokesman for Derrick Rose’s injury updates, the point guard can speak for himself now.
Rose didn’t participate in Thursday morning’s Bulls morning shootaround at the United Center — nor did he practice Wednesday afternoon, he revealed — but while Thibodeau claimed the Chicago native would be a “game-time decision” for the Bulls’ Halloween home opener because of “neck soreness,” Rose had a different take.
“Oh, hell yeah,” he emphatically responded, when asked if he’d play against the Knicks. “For sure, I know I’m going to play. It’s just that I have to get loose.”
Now, Rose didn’t downplay his injury, but certainly didn't dramatize the situation as much as the unnecessarily secretive Thibodeau.
“My neck is a little bit sore. We’ll have to see how it is later on tonight,” he said. “Just neck soreness, almost like a crook in your neck. But I should be fine.”
“Definitely frustrating. But I can’t get mad about it, can’t get sad about it. I know I’m doing all the things to get back on the court as quick as possible and working my butt off,” Rose continued. “I’ve been getting treatment the last couple of days, even this morning. It’s just getting my blood going, just being in the arena and seeing how much attention there is in the building, just checking out the atmosphere.”
Rose believes he suffered the injury — something he dealt with during his 2010-11 MVP campaign, causing him to sit out a loss at Denver, the one regular-season contest he missed that season — during Tuesday night’s season-opening loss in Miami, in which he shot 4-for-15 from the field.
“Yeah, that’s what I would expect. But I don’t know what play did it or whatever. My body just has to get used to playing. My knee is good. It’s just my neck,” he said. “I really don’t know. I guess something in the game. It had to be during the game. But I didn’t feel it until afterwards.
“I was good. It’s just the playing again. I never play pickup in the offseason. For me to have surgery and still not play pickup, all this my body is just getting used to. For me, all I can do is work my butt off every day and get the most out of every day and just see how far it takes me,” Rose added. “Yesterday, I just sat out, really got rest and treatment and just really rested the whole day.
“It’s better today. I think every day, it’s just like a crook in my neck so every day it gets better. I know when I get going and get to playing and warming up, it should be gone.”
Rose’s candor about the injury and optimism about playing in the game contrasted with his coach’s attempt to obfuscate the issue, a day after saying, “We’re fine,” when asked about the team’s overall health status following Wednesday’s practice at the Berto Center.
“Good,” Thibodeau initially said, when asked about his players’ health Thursday. “We’ll see.”
Later, when asked specifically if Rose, who was clad in sweatpants and low-cut sneakers, participated in shootaround, Thibodeau admitted, “No, he did not.”
“His knee is fine,” he continued. “Just nicked up a little bit.”
Then, he proceeded to say the area where Rose was ailing in particular was “his body.”
“Well, that’s what he’s been playing in the preseason. There’s still some rust that he needs to get through, but he’s handling it in practice. Just the next step,” Thibodeau went on to say, when asked about Rose’s reaction to playing 35 minutes in the Heat loss, before delving into how the floor general would react to his first regular-season home game since 2012. “He’s already gone through it. The preseason game here, that was pretty intense and he handled it well. So it won’t be a big deal. He’s been here six years now.”