Bulls defend Derrick Rose's decision

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose's teammates and coaches remain fully supportive of the rehabbing Chicago Bulls star despite a growing sentiment that he should return to the court. That sentiment was articulated this week by former Bulls guard and Turner Sports analyst Steve Kerr.

Kerr said Monday that Rose -- who hasn't played in a game since undergoing ACL surgery on May 12 -- owed it to his teammates to play if he's healthy. ESPN Chicago reported on March 9 that Rose had been medically cleared to play. Kerr echoed his sentiments while working Game 5 for TNT, which the Brooklyn Nets won to cut the Bulls' series lead to 3-2.

"Derrick owes it to what's right," Thibodeau said after Wednesday's practice. "And the more I'm around him, the more I'm impressed with this guy's character.

"He's not being swayed by anybody. He's not quite there, and we made that clear to him from the beginning. We're going to support him in every way possible. I would never question him. Ever."

Kerr had long been a believer that Rose should return only when he's comfortable, but he changed his mind while watching Rose's teammates such as Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised calf) fight through injuries.

Game 6 is Thursday in the United Center.

"I think Derrick owes it to his teammates at this stage," Kerr said Monday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN 1000. "And again, I've been Derrick's biggest supporter on this. I've been saying all along, up until two days ago, I've been saying, 'He should not play if he's not comfortable.'

"But if this is just about not being fully confident, you've got to go out there. If this is about, 'Hey, it doesn't feel right and I'm worried I can hurt it,' then no way should he play. But if this is just about, 'You know, gosh, I'm just not quite confident yet.' I would appeal to him and say, 'Can you give us 20 minutes?' And if you're Derrick, you've been watching Noah and Hinrich play on one leg this whole series, at what point do you start to feel sort of self-conscious and guilty about what's unfolding?"

Thibodeau said it was unfair to compare Rose's injury to anyone else's.

"There's a big difference between the type of injury he's had and all these other injuries," Thibodeau said. "And we certainly appreciate what all the other guys are doing, but Derrick has had a very serious injury. It requires time. He's 24 years old, we're not going to rush him back.

"When he's completely comfortable, that's when we want him out there. And if that means we wait another game, that means we wait 'til next year, so be it. We want him completely comfortable and we're not going to make that mistake."

Hinrich said that Kerr's views are not shared by Rose's teammates.

"We don't feel that way," Hinrich said. "It's been a very difficult year for Derrick. I've never experienced any sort of injury like that, and I'm not one to speak on how anybody else's body feels. We know what kind of guy he is, and we know what kind of teammate he is, and you know we don't feel that way."

Hinirch also noted that Rose still has total support within the locker room, a sentiment that teammates have repeatedly echoed throughout the season and during this playoff series against the Nets.

"Yeah, no question," Hinrich said. "I haven't heard one ill word said about it. You give a guy that has that type of character the benefit of the doubt. We know he's such a big part of this organization and this team that we trust he's making the right decision for that and for himself."