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NBA AM: Let Derrick Rose Be Derrick Rose
Posted By Steve Kyler On March 11, 2013 @ 9:42 am In NBA | No Comments
Get Off Of Derrick Rose: The message from the Chicago Bulls from the day Derrick Rose tore his left anterior cruciate ligament some 317 days ago was that Rose would return when he was ready. The Bulls have resisted picking days or talking about timetables because they knew first-hand how the media and the fan base would react if Rose missed some pre-defined window.
There is no topic commented on in Chicago more than Rose’s status and there is no more scrutiny of a player’s actions than the way Rose is being treated.
Rose missed practice this week for a dentist appointment, yet the headlines and the tweets read “Rose Misses Practice For Unknown Reasons” implying some level of disconnect between Rose and his team.
Despite being unwavering in their public message about Rose playing when he is ready, there still seems to be this belief that somehow the Bulls and Rose are not working from the same script or that they are not in constant communication about where he is at in his recovery.
The Bulls have said both publicly and privately that they knew the mental part of getting back and being himself would be the hardest thing to overcome especially when you consider how Rose plays.
Rose has been involved in full contact practices with his team for almost a month, and has been trying to find a rhythm for his return.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau parroted the same lines yesterday that he’s been using all season in regards to Rose saying to Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Thibodeau said. “For us right now the guys that are playing have to concentrate on their improvement and our next opponent. Derrick has to concentrate on his rehab. And until that changes that’s the way it has to be and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”
Rose spoke with ESPN’s Doris Burke during the Sunday broadcast and said his hamstrings had been bothering him lately and that he was working hard to a return.
Early in the process, a Bulls’ insider pointed to the manner in which Derrick plays as the problem for a speedy return, suggesting that Rose plays at one speed and in order for him to be effective he’d have to be able to play with no limitations and the Bulls have been working to that goal.
The one thing the Bulls did not want is to put a minute restriction or some kind of play limitations on Derrick, knowing that if he had those concepts in his head he would be far less effective. The Bulls want to be able to put Derrick on the floor and let him ‘be Derrick’ and to achieve that, Rose has to be confident in his own body.
The Bulls are 35-28 on the season after yesterday’s loss to the L.A. Lakers. If the playoffs started today, the Bulls would have the fifth seed and start the playoffs on the road versus Brooklyn.
The Bulls have 19 games remaining on their schedule including 13 versus Eastern Conference teams and seven versus teams with a record of .500 or above. The rest of the Bulls schedule is pretty balanced with nine home games and ten road games remaining.
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Dwight Apologizes: In an exclusive interview with USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick, Laker center Dwight Howard tried to explain the last year of his life as trying to please too many people and for that he was sorry.
“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” Howard said to Amick. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.
“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”
Howard will make his return to Orlando tomorrow after making some seething comments about his former teammates in a KCAL television interview.
“My whole thing that I wanted to get out about the situation … was just the fact that we were underdogs,” Howard said. “We were underrated. We were the team that nobody cared about. The only people who supported us were the people in Orlando. Nobody cared if we won or lost, and I hated that. I hated the fact that we hardly had any TV games. I hated the fact that we weren’t known. I hated it to the point where I was (upset) that I was the only player that people knew from Orlando.”
Howard admitted that he was wrong in how he handled things last year and that in retrospect he should have communicated better, rather than trying to stay out of the story.
“Whenever something happened, I should’ve let my teammates know. I should’ve said, ‘OK, this is what’s going on. I know what’s being said, but this is how I really feel,’” Howard said. “Or, ‘Hey, Coach, this is what’s being said, but this is how I feel,’ instead of just letting everything pile on and me not saying anything.
“I just felt at the time like, ‘I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to sit back and let it unfold.’ By doing that, everybody was getting mixed signals. They’re hearing this on TV, or I might make a quote about this and they twist it and turn it into something else. Now you’ve got everybody like, ‘What is he doing?’… It was story after story after story start coming out saying it was me saying this and me saying that, and I’m like, ‘I never said none of this stuff.’ I could tell some of that stuff started to bother my teammates, but I didn’t say nothing because I’m like, ‘They know that I’m not saying this.’ And it just kept piling on and piling on.”
Howard says it was at the All-Star break that he really got a grasp on his situation with the Lakers in watching how Lakers star Kobe Bryant handled himself and all of the adversity that’s been surrounding the team.
“I just use everything that has happened this year as a time for me to humble myself, to see how things could be (in the future),” Howard says. “Watching Kobe, as far as like everybody (saying), ‘Kobe did this. He’s the greatest in the world, the best at everything,’ there’s nothing ever said bad about Kobe. As a player, that’s what you want.
“I don’t take it as, ‘Oh, I’ve got to talk about Kobe today (when asked questions about him by news reporters).’ I’m like, ‘How can a guy like Kobe, who’s got five rings, got every accomplishment in the world, how can he sit up here and not allow all these great things that people say about him stop him from being who he is?’ … The more (good things) people say about him, the harder he works.
“That’s a champion’s mentality. He’s at the top of everything, and he wants to stay on the top, so he’s not going to ever let what people are saying stop him or make him want to quit on what he has already accomplished. I admire that.”
Howard will be an unrestricted free agent this July, and while there is still some belief that Howard may explore options other than re-signing with the Lakers, Howard and his camp of advisers continue to reassure the Lakers that he will be signing a new deal to remain in L.A. beyond this season, which is primarily why the Lakers turned away trade offers for Howard at the trade deadline.
The Lakers are 33-31 and climbed into the eighth seed in the West yesterday with their win over the Bulls. If the playoff started today the Lakers would see the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
The Lakers have 18 games remaining on their schedule which includes eight home games and ten road games. The Lakers will also see 13 Western Conference teams in their remaining games as well as nine games with teams with a record above .500
Smith Didn’t Demand A Max Contract: Atlanta’s Josh Smith made headlines when a quote attributed to him suggested that Smith was expecting a max-level contract when he hits free agency.
The comment started a fire storm of indignation from fans who marveled at how a borderline All-Star could expect a $100 million payday this summer. The truth of the matter is Smith isn’t expecting a max-level contract, he was simply asked if he thought he was worth it.
The Hawks did strongly consider trading Smith at the trade deadline; in fact sources close to the process say Atlanta was talking with teams right up until 2:52 p.m. EST, just eight minutes before the deadline to consummate a deal.
Smith said the constant speculation was a little unnerving, but with that behind him he was glad to focus on basketball again.
“It was total chaos, for two or three weeks,” Smith said to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “It’s good just to concentrate, knowing where I’m at, at least until the end of the season, and now we can focus on what we can do to make a playoff push and jockeying for position, knowing that it’s a real tight race. It’s good to be able to focus on basketball.”
Smith’s Hawks are 34-28 on the season and he is having one of his better years as a pro; however, that hasn’t stopped the critics from tearing down his season or that of his team.
“It’s never enough for the critics, but at the end of the day, I am not out here to please them,” he said. “I’m here to please my peers and the people that play with me.
“I’m respected in the NBA as far as the players are concerned. I know I’m a highly attractive player and all I can do is keep playing confident, hold my head high, and not really worry about what the naysayers and haters say.”
Smith was asked directly about his max contract quotes and understands how that got twisted.
“I didn’t just come up and make the statement that I was [a maximum player] — it was a question that I was asked,” he said. “I gave an honest answer. It’s not added pressure. I’m not going around just stating that. It was definitely a question.
Smith said he hasn’t given a lot of thought to his pending free agent status and that he’ll look at his options this summer. Remaining with the Hawks is still a possibility especially given that they can give him a bigger deal financially.
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to look ahead,” Smith said. “I focus on the present. As long as we do special things during the season or during the postseason, I don’t look into the future. I’ll think about [free agency] when it gets here.”
The Hawks have 20 games remaining on their schedule including 15 versus Eastern Conference teams and 11 versus teams with a record.500 or better. The Hawks have a somewhat balanced schedule with 11 home games and nine road games remaining.
If the playoff started today, the Hawks would open on the road versus the New York Knicks. Coincidentally, the Hawks see the Knicks twice in their remaining 20 games, with both games in April – a home game on the 3rd of April and a road game to wrap up the season on the 17th.
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