Former Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen defended current star Derrick Rose this past weekend, saying Rose took undeserved criticism from fans and media while rehabbing the entire season from a torn ACL.
"I was kind of surprised people turned on him knowing the difficulty of Derrick's injury," Pippen said at Nike's basketball pro-am at Whitney Young High School on Saturday, according to ESPN.com. "No one can justify what he's going through. No one can make his decision as to when to get back on the basketball court. I thought he took a little bit of a hit for it.
"As a player that has played this game, I know at the end of the day I've had numerous amount of surgeries, and the doctors released me at numerous amount of times to go and play. But a lot of those times didn't mean go and play against the best in the world right now, but to get yourself ready to compete again. Sometimes as a player, you're not there yet. The doctor can tell you the headache is gone, but he don't totally know that it is gone unless he can get in your head."
Rose came under intense scrutiny during the season when his rehab process took longer than originally anticipated. He suffered the injury in the 2012 playoffs, ultimately derailing the Bulls in what has perhaps been their best chance at an NBA championship since the Jordan era.
Last week, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau suggested the extra rest and rehabilitation has already begun to show in Rose. Thibodeau said Rose's speed and explosiveness are back to normal.
“Watching the way he’s moving now, there’s a confidence,” Thibodeau told ESPN.com. "[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he’s there now. He feels great, and that’s the most important thing.”