Derrick Rose played in a basketball game against real-life opponents in front of an adoring United Center crowd on Saturday night. He had a sweet last-second layup before the half, a sick crossover, and a missed dunk while generally looking content to sit back as . stole the show
Although Rose didn't really wow anybody, it was a plus to see him out there moving around like his old self at times. On that last-second layup, he was an absolute blur speeding down the court, bringing back vivid memories of the good ole days. And of course, it was a positive for him to get out of the game without a serious injury.
The optimism surrounding Rose has been sky high since the start of Team USA's training camp, but that momentum came to a halt when the point guard sat out two consecutive practices to rest his knees. While Coach K said Monday in an ESPN Radio interview that the rest was planned, Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com set off some alarm bells by reporting Rose sat out due to knee soreness.
A source familiar with Rose's condition told ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell that Rose has been bothered by knee soreness since his return to the floor Saturday night in an exhibition victory over Brazil in Chicago and requested the extra time to recover. But Team USA officials, to this point, have downplayed concerns about Rose's status.
Pessimists may want to push the panic button here, but there's little reason to do such a thing. Throughout these last few years, we've heard how knee soreness is simply a part of the recovery process after major knee surgery. When you've played such little basketball in a game setting at a high intensity level over a long period of time, it's only natural to feel that soreness when you return.
Rose himself isn't worried about it, and Tom Thibodeau said they anticipated soreness, according to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson:
"Saturday night was the first time for all the players to play again, so we were anticipating soreness the next day," said Thibodeau, an assistant on USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski's staff. "For Derrick, he had not played since November. We knew there'd be more for him. We just gave him a day or two (off), let him get his legs under him and we'll see where he is tomorrow."
This is just a reminder that it's going to be a process for Rose to return to playing at an elite level. It's not something that's going to happen overnight. It's easy to get caught up in all of the hype when people are talking about how he has "no restrictions" and how he looks so great in practice, but Sheridan says some of the optimism may have been overstated. Aggrey Sam even has a source saying there's still a chance Rose ends up withdrawing from the FIBA Basketball World Cup because of the burden he may have to carry, which would certainly be a bummer, but not the absolute worst thing in the world.
Rose likely won't start in Team USA's exhibition against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday due to the team's policy of having to practice the day before a game in order to start. However, he's still expected to suit up and play, although perhaps he doesn't see as much floor time as he did against Brazil.