The Bulls received a surprise visitor Monday: Derrick Rose.
Less than 48 hours after ending his season by tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the league's reigning most valuable player came to the Berto Center to begin treatment and healing of another kind. Several who spoke to him said Rose focused more on how his teammates are doing than his own injury.
"We want him be around," coach Tom Thibodeausaid. "As much time as he needs is fine. I don't think he'll be able to travel with us. But he'll be around. And he wants to be around. He's anxious to get around his teammates. That's the way Derrick is. He doesn't look back. He looks ahead. That's a great way to be."
Thibodeau said he doesn't know if Rose will attend Tuesday's Game 2. A specific medical plan for when Rose undergoes surgery is still being formulated.
"He's got to wait because they're strengthening the quad and all that," Thibodeau said. "It will probably be clearer by the end of the week."
Thibodeau said Rose, as usual, is already flashing a competitive side.
"He's obviously disappointed with the injury," Thibodeau said. "He's totally into the team, and he's already thinking of all the things he's going to do to get back. The guy's a fierce, fierce competitor, and that's the way he'll approach his rehab. I'm extremely confident he'll come back better than ever."
Beyond 76ers coach Doug Collins' public support, Thibodeau said several coaches around the league have contacted him to deliver positive messages to Rose.
"People have a lot of respect for Derrick, not only for his greatness as a player but how he carries himself, how he represents the league and game," Thibodeau said.
Teammates were happy to see Rose.
"He's handling it well," Kyle Korver said. "It's a tough thing. But he seemed like he was in pretty good spirits."
Closing time: Losing Rose robs the Bulls of their go-to scorer at crunch time. Predictably, Thibodeau said multiple options remain.
"We've had a lot of guys this year hit big shots late," he said. "If you study the season, it's obvious. Luol (Deng) has hit big shots. C.J. (Watson) has hit big shots. Carlos (Boozer) has hit big shots. John Lucas has hit big shots. The thing that I like about our team is we have a team of winners."
Talking heads: Several prominent league analysts, including TNT's Charles Barkley, have theorized the Bulls can't win a championship without Rose.
"It's meaningless," Thibodeau said. "To me, the most important thing is what we think. Somebody on the outside, whether it's praise or criticism, it doesn't matter. We know our team better than anybody else."
The Bulls went 18-9 during regular-season play without Rose.