It sounded like one of those wise comments that end up in a book of quotations.
‘‘I have no fears; I have faith.’’ — Derrick Rose, U.S. basketball player.
So simple yet so profound. Rose is a lot of things. Humble. Athletic. Agreeable to a fault. Maybe even jinxed. But Churchillian? No.
Maybe we should start listening a little harder. Last week, he was telling us how to proceed.
If he has no fear about his future, then why should anybody else?
On Saturday at the United Center, Chicago fans followed where Rose was leading them on the subject of his two surgically repaired knees. I’m not fluent in stadium-ese, but their roars seemed to say, ‘‘What surgically repaired knees?’’
It was as though the Bulls star never had been injured, as though there never had been any public backlash against him, as though everyone had been teleported back to his MVP season of 2010-11. The only thing on display was a full-blown case of faith.
Faith in Rose. Faith in rehab. Faith in hard work. Faith in a higher power, for those so inclined. What’s the point of gnawing on your fingernails? Keep calm and carry on.
It has taken almost 2½ years for Rose to go from zero to the starting point-guard spot for Team USA. A slow, painful process, but there he was, looking as explosive as ever. If you didn’t know that before he walked onto the floor to face Brazil in an exhibition game, you knew it when he blew past the unfortunate Guilherme Giovannoni and beat the halftime clock with a one-hander off the backboard.
That was Rose’s way of faxing, ‘‘I’m back.’’
As fellow Chicago native Anthony Davis put it: ‘‘The things that he does can’t be taught.’’
Other than a cut on the bridge of his nose, Rose survived. He’s whole. He’ll continue to be whole. Yes, we’ve heard that before. There have been enough stops and starts along the way that when Rose gets to the Bulls’ regular-season opener, we’ll chronicle that milestone as though it’s a G8 Summit. But this particular comeback feels like it will take.
He went up for a monster two-handed dunk in the second quarter — the way the old Rose used to — and rocked it off the back of the rim. Think he might have been a little too amped?
In the third quarter, he crossed over Raul Neto (also unfortunate), cradled the ball, hung in the air and, well, you know the drill. Chants of ‘‘MVP! MVP!’’ ensued.
‘‘I think everybody’s excited,’’ said Rose, who scored seven points in Team USA’s 95-78 victory. ‘‘It was cool, but at the same time I can’t get bigheaded about it.’’
Thanks to Paul George’s ugly injury, there has been trepidation about Rose’s participation on the national team. But it makes perfect sense for him to play. He needs more basketball, not less.
His ‘‘no fears’’ quote originated there. Players play. Players who have played a total of 49 games the last three seasons need to play more.
Rose played 24 minutes, 11 seconds against Brazil. This is where someone is supposed to say Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls’ coach and an assistant on the national team, had to be restrained from using Rose more. Thibodeau has a reputation for overusing players, the way fish have a reputation for overusing water.
But he seems to be on board with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski’s minutes limit for Rose. Who knows, Coach K’s philosophy even might rub off on Thibs.
You’re right: Nah.
‘‘It was great to watch Derrick play again,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he played.’’
The idea of a healthy Rose paired with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol is no longer a fingers-crossed proposition. It would be silly to declare Rose out of harm’s way for good, but the game against Brazil ought to raise the confidence of anyone with an emotional investment in him. His confidence doesn’t seem to be in need of elevating.
His game looks a bit different, though out of design, not limitations. He’s the point guard on a team of extremely talented basketball players. He doesn’t need to be driving to the basket like a tornado all the time.
But there’s no need to proceed with caution, either — not for him and not for us. We’ll assume he’s fully healed and fully back. We saw it ourselves Saturday.
Keep the faith.