“The best thing I can say to him is all of us Chicagoans, we have a never-say-die attitude,” Thomas said by phone. “We come on hard times, and injuries don’t stop us.”
Rose, last season’s NBA MVP, tore his ACL in his left knee during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 28. He had surgery on May 12 and is expected to miss eight to 12 months.
Thomas hopes Rose will return as the same player and give the Bulls a shot at winning an NBA title.
“I’m hoping he can come back from his injury,” said Thomas, who was a 12-time all-star with the Detroit Pistons. “It’s a very tough injury. (The Bulls) were so, so close. They had the right coach. They had the right style of play for him. They were the best team in the league this year.
“To see that derailed by injury, no one wants to see that. Everyone wants to see an athlete on a team have the opportunity to either win on their own merit or lose on their own merit. To have that opportunity taken away because of an injury, no one wants to see that. We’re all praying and hoping he can recover from this injury , and the team can have a chance at winning a title.”
Thomas, who won titles with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990, wants Rose to experience winning an NBA championship like he and number of other Chicago products have in their careers.
“Guys who come through Chicago, all of us have won championships,” Thomas said. “I’ve won two. (Mark) Aguirre won. Eddie Johnson has won. Darrell Walker has won. Doc Rivers has won. Antoine Walker has won. We pride ourselves on not only playing well and leaving our mark on the NBA, but also winning championships in the NBA.
“We’ve all left our mark in the NBA. We expect Derrick to leave his mark in the NBA, too."