For the umpteenth time: Derrick Rose is playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup to recondition his body to game speed, to get his game legs underneath him and to get his cardiovascular endurance at game level, and use the games as a personal service to his betterment. Call it selfish if you’d like, but then don’t go wagging your finger at Kevin Durant for not playing for Team USA this summer.
For all intents and purposes, Rose is obviously a hyper competitive person and for every second he’s on the floor for Team USA he’s going to do everything in his power to get his team closer to victory and eventually reaching the ultimate goal of winning a gold medal. But Rose’s interest in playing for Team USA is personally vested; the atmosphere in the FIBA games will be intense enough to resemble the NBA regular season, but inconsequential in the grander picture of Rose’s career.
After all, Rose already won a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Cup, and was a starter on that team when a raw Russell Westbrook was serving as his backup. In 2014, Rose will get his share of time on the floor which will be about 20 minutes a game, and the usefulness of Rose is that he can be paired with any of the other guards on Team USA’s roster.
If we’re naïve enough to think that Derrick Rose not starting is an indication of any future struggles taking place once the NBA season rolls around, that’d be absurd. If we’re irked by the fact that we’re just not used to seeing Derrick Rose coming off the bench, then that’s something we’re just going to have to get past for two weeks worth of games in late August, early September in a non-Bulls jersey.
Because to be clear: Kyrie Irving has outplayed Rose to this point, and has earned a starting spot on this team. Derrick’s allowed to play a bad game; in fact, he’s only had one. Derrick’s allowed (and going to) miss games because a guy coming off consecutive major knee surgeries is on a different program, as hard as that is to believe for some.
Rose’s critics like to point out that he’s exempt from playing for Team USA – that it’s a choice of his – well then, back to the original point: if we’re going to question the commitment of our stars like Durant or LeBron for not playing, we have to accept that Rose’s situation is quite literally a return unlike any other.
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