Former Bulls forward Luol Deng doesn’t like hearing that fans and media are questioning Derrick Rose’s toughness.
Deng went as far to say that Rose’s injuries today are the result of playing through so many when the two were teammates.
“The thing with Derrick is, I was there from his rookie year, I’ve watched him growing up,” the Miami Heat forward told Bleacher Report. “When he first came to the league, me and Joakim [Noah] would always tell him, ‘Derrick, you can’t play tonight. You’re hurt.’ And he always wants to put the team behind him and the city behind him. And even when he was hurt, he would play.
“And I really believe that some of his injuries were because he would play hurt. We would tell him not to. And he was so determined and wanted to be the best he could be, not only for the team, [but] for the city. And we kept trying to tell him to understand, like, ‘Look, there’s a difference between pain and injury.’ And I think now after two injuries, he’s being smart.”
And here’s what Deng told Bleacher Report about the comments made by O’Neal and Barkley.
“It upset me to see that, because what [Rose] represents, especially for today’s athlete, is a blessing,” Deng said. “It’s so sad to see someone attacking someone like that. I was really pissed. As a friend, it really bothered me a lot when I was watching TNT, and what some of the people were saying.
“But honestly, he’s an example of how a lot of kids should be. Someone who puts home first, works so hard and is so humble. And to do that to him is really destroying his identity and what he stands for.”
If you missed the comments from Barkley and O’Neal that Deng is referring to, here’s the video:
Dwyane Wade offered a defense of Rose in the Bleacher Report piece, as well.
“People who have never been injured, really seriously injured, where it could be career-changing, they don’t understand what D-Rose’s mental [state] is when he said that,” Wade said. “I mean, I’m sure a lot of people who have picked what he said apart and had a lot of things to say, but if you’ve never been really injured and it’s been career-changing for you, then you don’t know the mentality that he’s going through.
“From what I get from it, he’s not saying that he doesn’t care about the game and he doesn’t want to be out there in the moment. But he’s also saying that he has to make smart decisions for his body.”
Read the entire Bleacher Report article here.