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Derrick Rose responds to Charles Barkley's 'stupid' comment

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Derrick Rose heard the criticism.

Loud and clear.

After making his now infamous “graduations and meetings’’ comments over a week ago, the Bulls point guard was not only ripped in his hometown, but nationally by Hall of Fame players. It was Charles Barkley that was the most vocal, saying of Rose’s comments, “There are pros and cons to what we do for a living. As much as I like Derrick Rose that was just flat-out stupid.’’

Rose said on Monday that not only was he made aware of those comments, but that he understood where Barkley and other former NBA players were coming from.

“No, I understand. I can’t get mad at that, that’s their opinion,’’ Rose said before the morning shootaround. “That’s what I said at the time, that’s what I felt, and when things happen like that I always have to stay positive with my train of thought. I know it’s a bigger picture than what everyone sees and I know in the future this is just going to be minor.’’

It would be nice if it started moving in that “minor’’ direction tonight against the Jazz, especially since Rose has missed four straight games with a strained left hamstring, and has only been a participant in five of the 13 games the Bulls have played since the regular season started.

The hope is it will, with Rose insisting that he was “close.’’

“If it feels good enough and it’s not fatiguing when I’m out there, I mean during shootaround, then I’ll give it a go, but if not we’ve got back-to-backs,’’ Rose said. “If not today, tomorrow.

“I’m very close, very close. Just trying to really listening to my body again. Really get the most out of every day, every shootaround, every practice, every training session.’’

Rose’s return might not be a solo act, either.

Pau Gasol (strained left calf) is also a probable for tonight, after missing the last three games. Reserve guard Kirk Hinrich (chest contusion) was iffy, and Taj Gibson (left ankle) was obviously out since he was sent back to Chicago to have the injury re-evaluated, but two bodies back are better than none.

Especially if one of those bodies is a former league MVP.

“Right now it’s just playing through the fatigue,’’ Rose said of the injury. “When you come back, I guess hamstring injuries, when you hurt them you have to wait for them to heal. You got to really test it while you’re out there and fatigue has something to do with it. So just really see if I can play through the fatigue.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops