Watching Derrick Rose play for Team USA on Saturday night, it was easy to forget just how long it’s been since he’s electrified a crowd.
In his first game in nine months, Rose, the 2010-11 NBA MVP with the Chicago Bulls, had moments of his old brilliance in the 95-78 victory over Brazil in Chicago’s United Center.
“All summer long I think he’s gotten more comfortable,” Tom Thibodeau, who coaches Rose with the Bulls and is a Team USA assistant, told Yahoo. “He went through the comeback last year and learned a lot from it. I love the way he’s playing. He’s finding the rhythm of the game and he’s playing to his strengths.”
Rose has been though a lot over the last two NBA seasons, playing in only 10 games because of two devastating knee injuries. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in an April 2012 game and missed the following season. Last fall, he tore his medial meniscus and missed the rest of the season. Naturally, he was cautious about how he felt playing before a hometown crowd that was geeked to see the Bulls’ best player back on the court.
“I think everybody’s excited,” said Rose, who had seven points in 24 minutes. ”It was cool. At the same time, I can’t get big-headed about it or anything like that. I’ve just got to keep poised.”
It was a good start and plays into Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s plan for him in the FIBA World Cup later this month.
“Derrick’s role is easy to play, easy to work [with],” he told ESPN last week. “Just get the ball and be Derrick. And be Derrick for as long as you can.”