Derrick Rose Makes Triumphant United Center Return

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose
David Banks USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose was so explosively hyped during his long awaited and anticipated United Center return Saturday night that he somehow managed to over-extend himself on what most would agree was by far the night’s most makeable basket.

Rose clanked a wide-open two-hand, breakaway dunk during Team USA’s 95-78 World Cup exhibition win over Brazil, but other than that the oft-injured Chicago Bulls star was poetry in motion in riveting his hometown fans to no spellbinding end.

Rose juked, sputtered, and powered his way to seven points and a pair of assists in classic DRose fashion in leading an inspired though depleted Team USA squad. And what he wasn’t able to do, fellow hometown product Anthony Davis was sure to complete, finishing with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds.

But numbers aside, the night belonged to Rose, who addressed the overflowing crowd during pregame introductions to thunderous applause and chants of “MVP.” It’s been a long time coming for Rose, who since his MVP season in 2011 has appeared in just 49 games for the Bulls, the heart wrenching courtesy of a pair of back-to-back season-ending knee injuries that prevented him from playing in his home arena in almost than nine months.

“I’m playing the way I normally play in the trials,” said Rose. “Push the ball, play defense and get guys shots. When the shot is available, take the shot, and I think that’s what I did tonight. I had one or two turnovers, but that could easily be changed. When I was out there they wanted me to shoot every ball.”

Bulls coach and Team USA assistant Tom Thibodeau could tell and he couldn’t have been more elated with his star player’s big-time performance.

“It’s great to watch Derrick play again,” said Thibodeau, who was particularly pleased by one third-quarter sequence where Rose crossed over a defender and split a pair of others for a change-of-hands, left-handed scoop that brought the masses to their feet. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he played.”

Rose and the rest of Team USA will now take their act to New York City, where the squad will spend all of next week working out in anticipation of Coach Mike Krzyzewski trimming the current 16-man roster down to 12.

“I’m pleased with our team,” said Krzyzewski. “We’ve had a lot of interruptions. The one thing that hasn’t been interrupted has been effort. Our guys have played hard in every practice. They’re a really good group. To play an organized team and an outstanding team like Brazil like this tonight was really encouraging for us.”

Those aforementioned interruptions have come in the form of Paul George suffering a major leg injury and Kevin Durant deciding to withdraw from the team. But none of that heartache could dampen the enthusiasm born of Team USA’s performance on Saturday, particularly that of the Chicago-born and bred duo.

“I’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” said Rose, who suffered a second quarter scratch to his face that required bandaging before returning to sink a halftime buzzer-beating floater. “Probably, if this was a couple weeks ago I wouldn’t have been emotional, but right now it feels great.”

Chi-Town stand up for the return of Chicago’s finest. But then, if you were at the United Center Saturday night you already are.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.