The last time Derrick Rose suited up and played in the United Center was April 28, 2012.
It's the date that will be forever branded to his career as he would tear his left anterior cruciate ligament. Rose would miss the following season, choosing to make sure he was 100 percent comfortable and assured that he would be able to play the style of play that has defined his game.
When he entered the United Center this evening in preparation for the Bulls third preseason game vs. the Detroit Pistons, he did so as a full participant. While it is the first home game back in his return, he's walked through the building too many times and prepared the same way for the experience to feel any different.
"Feels the same way," he said. "Feels like a regular game. I really can’t let it get to me. Just go out there, play hard and just try my hardest to win this game."
You can excuse him for the lack of emotional investment, but one thing he is happy for is everything returning to normal for him.
“Thibs talking to me, yelling at me a little bit more,” Rose said on things getting back to normal from being a spectator all of last season. I know that it feels good just coming back into the building, being a part of walkthrough. Not sitting on the side and just watching everyone go through the plays. I’m happy to be back playing and just can’t wait until these games start and get the regular season started.
In the first two games, he has shown signs of rust –which is to be expected of someone who hasn’t played over a year and a half and doesn’t play any sort of pickup basketball – but there’s also the speed, explosion and lift that makes him one of the most difficult matchups and best players in the league.
“I surprised myself some, going to the lane, getting guys on their heels and really playing through contact,” he said. Even though I’m getting hit, I’m finding ways to get through it.”
Never one that is anxious, Rose said he is looking forward to getting over all of the “firsts,” so he could get over answering the same questions, but understands the process. He’s also hopeful that he could get into more of a rhythm against Detroit as he hasn’t been looking to exert himself much during the first two contest, just running the team and taking his opportunities when they present themselves.
“The aggressiveness has been very good and the explosiveness,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There is some rust and that is to be expected when you’ve missed as much time as he’s missed. You can see that sometimes he’s made a great move and he hasn’t finished like he normally would. But the explosion is there. You see it in practice, in the games. The speed is there and you see his confidence growing every game.”
Joakim Noah will make his preseason debut after sitting the first three games due to a sore groin.
Mike Dunleavy will start in place of Jimmy Butler, who has a bruised left knee.