LeBron, others back Rose's stance

HOUSTON -- Miami Heat superstar LeBron James believes Derrick Rose made the right decision this week by saying he wouldn't "mind missing this year" if his knee didn't feel right.

"I agree (with what he said)," James said during Friday afternoon's All-Star Game media session. "I agree.

"Derrick Rose basically said if I'm not ready, if I don't feel like I'm ready to play, I don't mind sitting out the whole season. He shouldn't be rushed back by nobody. Derrick Rose is his own man. This is Derrick Rose's career we're talking about; nobody else's. Because if Derrick Rose comes back and gets injured again, Derrick Rose is the only people that's got to deal with that. He's an unbelievable talent. He's one of the best players that we've seen in this game, and mentally when he's ready, physically he feels like he's ready, then he (should) make a comeback. Until then, he shouldn't rush it."

While Rose acknowledged Wednesday night that he would "'love to" play this season, he also left open the possibility that he may not play at all this season as he continues to recover from May 12 surgery to fix a torn ACL in his left knee. He also said he's not dunking yet and his leg doesn't feel quite right.

The Bulls have been steadfast in saying they will not rush Rose back onto the court, although they have acknowledged the hope was he would return this season. Vice president John Paxson said he expected Rose to participate in 5-on-5 drills after the break, and the Bulls will monitor how his body responds.

Rose's teammates also support Rose's right to decide for himself.

"I see him he looks OK, he looks fine," Joakim Noah said. "But it's not on me to say, it's not on any coaches to say, it's not on the media to say, it's on him. And I respect his decision either way, because I know how bad he wants to come out there, but he has to be smart."

"People are making the decision (based) on how we're playing and I keep saying it shouldn't be like that," Luol Deng said. "The decision should be 'How does Derrick feel?' If we were having a bad season and we were losing everyone would say Derrick should rest and think about the long run. But it almost feels like a little bit of selfishness and a little bit of greed in the fact that we're doing well so you want to add a little sugar into it and win it all."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, appearing Friday on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000, was asked if he believes Rose will return this season.

"Whenever he is ready," he said. "I don't want anyone to overreact, everyone has to be patient, including him and all of us.

"When he's ready to go, he goes. That's what we've said from the beginning. He's making good, steady progress. I think he's right where he needs to be. He's right on schedule. He's not ahead, he's not behind. It's when he's ready, and that's what we're going to do."

One source told ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers that the chances of Rose returning this season are "50-50."

"I would love to (play this season)," Rose said. "I would love to. That's why I approached my rehab and my workout so hard. I'm trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible, but if I have anything lingering on, it's no point."

James hopes Rose can return to the player he used to be before the injury.

"I hope so," James said. "No one knows. ... But I think we all wish and hope, and it would be great for the game if he does because he's one of the best players this game has ever seen. His ability to explode the way he do at that height, his ability to lead and inspire, he does more than play the game of basketball, he inspires a lot of kids not only in the city of Chicago, but all over."

Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant, one of Rose's good friends, also is glad Rose will take his time.

"I can understand," Durant said. "Coming off an ACL, it's not easy. Your knee ... he's a guy that does a lot of cutting, does a lot of jumping and he's so quick off his feet, you need that.

"I think people around him are pushing him to come back so quickly just because they want to see him back, but I think he should take his time and make sure his knee is 100 percent, 110 percent. As a player of the game and a friend of D-Rose I support him, and I know he's going to come back even better, but I think everybody around him wants him to play so bad, but I'm glad he's taking his time."

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant also supported Rose's stance.

"I think if (Rose is) not healthy enough to come back, that's the absolute right decision," Bryant said. "There's no reason to rush. He has a long career ahead of himself, he's dealing with a very serious injury and hopefully he's using (Minnesota Vikings running back) Adrian Peterson as an inspiration and see what he's been able to do coming back from a knee injury, and if he doesn't come back (this) season, I'm sure he'll be ready to go next year."

Peterson captured the NFL's MVP award and nearly broke the single-season rushing record this past season after returning from ACL surgery.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade also appreciated Rose's statements.

"I just made of it an athlete making a decision because he knows his own body," Wade said. "And he's not being pressured into ... whether he comes back right after the break or whether he comes back next year he's not going to be pressured into expectations of 'when D-Rose is supposed to return.' He's going to come back when his body says that he should and he knows his own body and no one knows him better than himself. I liked that, I liked that he stood up and said that."