CLEVELAND — Anthony Morrow swears he never even thought about it.
Morrow, who was acquired Thursday in the Taj Gibson/Doug McDermott deal, wore No. 2 with the Thunder. That was already taken by Bulls guard Jerian Grant, so he picked a close number: No. 1.
He made it known to the media before the game Friday against the Suns, and by the time he checked his social-media feed after the victory, the firestorm was in full burn.
“Yeah. I don’t know how . . . I mean, before the game I didn’t see anybody say anything on Twitter or Instagram, and then when I sat down, I started going through my Twitter mentions, and it was like crazy,’’ Morrow said Saturday. “Like, ‘What makes you think you can wear that?’ I was like, ‘Oh, Derrick Rose . . .’ [The media] told me [before the game], but I had forgotten [when I chose the number].
“I like Derrick. Derrick’s a great guy, and I know what the city means to him. I know what he means to the city. And fans are a part of the sport, so I’m going to respect it.’’
That meant changing from Rose’s No. 1 to No. 11.
It’s not the first time this has happened this season, either.
Michael Carter-Williams was acquired from the Bucks during training camp, and when he went with No. 1, he also felt the immediate social-media blowback.
Carter-Williams quickly changed to No. 7 rather than deal with Rose fans’ vitriol.
Asked if Carter-Williams warned him, Morrow said, “Nope. He was sitting right over there [in the locker room], and I think he saw it, but he was probably like . . . [Morrow lowered his head and started shaking it]. I don’t know.’’
Word got back to Rose in New York that his fan base was still defending his number, and the longtime Bull told members of the media, “For me, I feel two ways about it. I understand that it’s just a number, but I get how the fans feel, too, as far as just the memories that we had, me wearing that number.’’
Morrow said fans didn’t get too vicious.
“It wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before, but it was just so many people, man,’’ Morrow said. “I was like, ‘This is crazy.’ But it’s sports, like I said. It’s fans. He has a strong cult-like following, and he’s from here, so I get it.’’
The Bulls again had to leave several players back in Chicago.
Carter-Williams was dealing with patellar tendinitis, and Paul Zipser was still sidelined with tendinitis in his left ankle.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said Carter-Williams’ injury didn’t sound too serious, but it was bothering him during the game Friday, so he’s day-to-day.
Hoiberg was asked if it was important to him that general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said his job was safe and that they’ve seen growth in his coaching this season.
He quickly sidestepped the question and reiterated that his only focus was winning the next game on the schedule.
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.