It was too soon for USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and his coaching staff to answer questions Friday night in Las Vegas. Not minutes after they had seen the horrific leg injury suffered by two-time All-Star Paul George overshadow what had been a great week.
But tough questions need to be asked, specifically how NBA teams will react to their players — who are being paid a great deal of money — wanting to participate in international play going forward?
For the Bulls and Derrick Rose, who’s coming off his second season-ending knee injury, that hasn’t been questioned.
Yes, Team USA needs a point guard like Rose, but Rose also needs Team USA. Even with the injury to George serving as a cruel reminder of how one misstep can change the immediate future of a franchise, the risk for Rose appears to be worth the reward.
“Just to see how he is moving, how he’s doing,’’ Bulls general manager Gar Forman said earlier of what he hoped to get out of the camp. “But he looks terrific. And he’s so strong. Defensively, it has been incredible to get after guys.’’
Forman then was asked if there was any reservation in having Rose participate.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I think it’s a real positive that he gets an opportunity to do this and do it against the level of competition that he’s doing it against.’’
It works for Rose.
Having played only 10 regular-season games since 2012, Rose could have had a lot of rust and a lot of doubt. But when he took the floor for the Team USA intrasquad game Friday, he had none of either.
Rose appeared to be the quickest player on the court in his first five minutes of action. Even with his wind seemingly getting the best of him in the second half, the 2011 MVP reminded everyone just how good he is.
A week of working with the best in the league can do that for a player.
“I don’t think I have to prove anything to myself,’’ Rose said leading up to the game. “I think just coming on the court, after the first day, I’m fine, to tell you the truth. I know that I can play with these guys.’’
By the regular season, he could be dominating them once again.
But first things first. Rose still has more than a month of play left with Team USA, and in the wake of George’s injury, people will be holding their breath.
“Derrick has done everything in his power to put himself back on the floor in the condition he needs to be, at least the knee needs to be,” vice president of basketball operations John Paxson told ESPN radio last week. “So if he feels good about it, not thinking about it and playing with confidence, I think that’s the best thing that can happen.’’
There are better things that can happen.
The last time Rose played for Team USA, he left with his confidence sky high and strolled to the MVP award.
Could history repeat itself?
“If me winning basketball games wins me another MVP trophy, I’ll be happy about that,’’ Rose said.