INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Well, the big day is here and predictably, newly-turned 25-year-old Derrick Rose refused to make a big deal out of the biggest Bulls comeback since Michael Jordan’s return from his first retirement in 1995, ironically against the Pacers, then led by Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, in this same city.
“I’m excited, but at the same time, you’ve got to look at it: It’s preseason, man,” Rose said before the Bulls’ morning shootaround Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, adding some gravity to the hyped-up situation.” It’s for everyone to get their wrinkles out. You’re playing with new guys. I haven’t played with these guys for a long time, so it’s me adjusting to how they play and just adjusting to the NBA game, period. It should be fun. The experience should be something new. It’s like a new beginning for me and it’s about time.
“I just know that a lot of people are going to be watching, but while you’re living in the moment, you really can’t tell how big it is,” continued the point guard, as usual, the voice of reason while people on the outside looking in are losing their minds. “I’m good. I think the only time you should get nervous is when you’re not prepared and for me, I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. It’s been on my mind for a long time and it’s going to feel good, being out there on the court and feeling comfortable.”
Regarding his playing time, for the most part, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau lumped Rose in with the rest of his starters, per typical NBA preseason affairs.
“Just a general rule of thumb would be six-to-eight minute spurt and we’re going to see where he is. The game is different [than practice], so if he needs rest, we’re going to give him rest. If he’s okay, we’ll play him a little bit more. But probably six-to-eight minute spurts,” the coach said. “[The Bulls’ starting lineup will] get three segments. Two to three, depending on where it is. Same thing with the second unit and the free agent guys, I want to give them a segment or two. You don’t know until they get out there and run up and down a little bit, to see where everybody is conditioning-wise and things like that. But you’re building chemistry, you’re trying to establish winning habits, plays the right way and it’s good to measure yourself against somebody else.”
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Rose acknowledged that despite all of his rehabilitation efforts, conditioning regimen and a week of training camp, playing in an actual NBA game again, he could get winded quicker than in the past.
“Probably so, but it comes along with just playing, building up that wind. You can run all you want, you can condition all you want, but there’s nothing like actually playing in the game and getting that game type of wind,” he explained. “I really can’t give a time limit on when I should have my wind. It may take two to five games, it may take until the regular season. Who knows? But as long as I’m playing in these games, I’m going to be trying to push myself every game and every practice until the regular season, so that I’m ready.”
Of course, the true test of when Rose is officially back to his old self—to paraphrase teammate Kirk Hinrich—is when he attempts to take over a game. Only then will all of the speculation finally cease, though simply being back on the court Saturday certainly helps to quell all of the hubbub.