MIAMI -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had an impassioned message for critics of teammate Derrick Rose after the Bulls' impressive 93-86 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night.
Noah took a question regarding how much pride he and his team feel being able to win without Rose while so many pundits count them out, and he went off on an emotional defense of his close friend.
"Derrick's a brother," Noah said. "And to see him go through this is tough, but at the end of the day it's really funny how quick people are to judge. But people don't know what it's like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL.
"If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations that Derrick has, then maybe you can judge, but everybody who hasn't been in that situation before should really shut up because I feel like it's just so unfair to him and to this team. We're fighting, and everybody's going to just s--- on somebody who's been giving so much to this organization. It's crazy to me."
Rose has been at the forefront of much criticism, especially on Twitter, as the Bulls have continued an impressive run through the postseason. A growing number of fans believe that Rose should be back on the floor as he continues his rehab from ACL surgery.
Rose admitted on Monday that his status for this series was "still up in the air. I might have a chance," despite the fact that he has yet to play this season.
Noah did not acknowledge whether he has spoken to Rose about the criticism, but it was clear he didn't like what he has been hearing. Rose said on Saturday that he hasn't paid much attention to the criticism, but Noah and the rest of his teammates have made it a point to stand up for Rose's decision not to play.
"He can say that he doesn't (listen to it)," Noah said. "I think he's dealing with it unbelievable. He's tough as nails, man. He's not budging. He doesn't let none of that affect him; whether it's praise or people judging him about his decision, he's the same. He's the same, and I really respect that because I don't think a lot of people could deal with the things that he deals with on a daily basis."
"Tell me again how it worked out for RG3 during the playoffs when he wasn't honest with himself or his coach about whether he should keep going. Magic Johnson tells the story about allowing himself to be pressured into playing following a knee injury in the early 1980s only to come back before he was psychologically ready to play. Rose, Magic believes, can only be helped by a summer of playing full-tilt, followed by a training camp.
The miraculously recovered Adrian Peterson was the first person I heard point out that he, after shredding his knee, had the benefit of a full training camp before going back on the field.
We're talking about a 10-year decision Rose is making, which ought to suggest to the know-it-alls it's infinitely wiser to err on the side of caution, whether that means returning for the final three weeks of this season or not until training camp. The know-it-alls obviously have forgotten about Gilbert Arenas, who before his gun issues was one of the 10 best players in the game from 2004 to 2006. He thought he was appeasing a whole lot of people when he tried to sprint back from major knee surgery in 2007. All his expedited return got him was one physical setback after another and at 30 years old Arenas was playing in China, a shell of his old self.
The reward for Rose returning, say, this week is minimal. To what end? Would his return enable the Bulls to beat Miami in the second round? Third round? No, neither. But the risk is incalculable. This isn't the return of Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves point guard doesn't explode, doesn't play above the rim, isn't reliant on his legs. Rose does and is. If he's reticent to try and go up off his left leg to finish around the rim, he shouldn't be in the game yet. I find it difficult to believe that people, especially my friends in the Chicago media, are so desperate to see Rose back on the court they fail to acknowledge that nothing about returning from such a knee injury is to be presumed".