Speaking on the "Adam 'The Bull' and Dustin Fox Show" on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland, Calipari—who coached Rose while at Memphis—defended Rose's decision to not play this season, the playoffs included (via Kurt Heilin of NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk):
“An NBA player’s body, if he does anything to hurt his own body he’s wrecking his own career. You let them listen to their bodies.
“The second thing is, I’ve talked to Chicago Bulls management, I know all those guys…and you know what? They’re fine. They didn’t want him to go back. As a matter of fact, they wanted to announce he wasn’t coming back, but Derrick didn’t want to do it because he thought if there is any chance for me to come back…"
It should come as no surprise that Calipari stood by Rose. If Jim Boeheim has taught us anything since the NBA playoffs began, it's that college coaches remain fiercely loyal to former players now in the NBA.
Not to mention that Rose's decision, while abhorred by many, has been met with almost blind acceptance by the Chicago Bulls and those closest to him. It's only fitting Calipari joins those ranks.
In his quest to exonerate the superstar point guard, though, Calipari also touches upon what has always been the biggest issue.
Most would have understood Rose's decision to sit if he had allowed the Bulls to officially shut him down for the season. Leaving the door open for his return only left him susceptible to impassioned doses of criticism.
All along, that's something we've struggled to grasp. His return became the expectation when really, it shouldn't have been.
Had he permitted the Bulls to publicly acknowledge he was going to sit for the entire year, he would have been subject to much less of the public vitriol that plagued him throughout the postseason.
Calipari concedes that the Bulls didn't even want him to come back. The team could have spun it as their decision. They could have made Rose out to be a hero (again).
Odes to his commitment and devout loyalty would have been penned in his favor. His alleged cowardice wouldn't have been as prominent of a topic of discussion. Both Rose and the team would have been spared the brutal public discourse that comes with perpetuating ambivalence.
In retrospect, that was Rose's greatest mistake. His intentions were pure—his perception of how to transmit them were not. Chicago wanted to end the reign of ambiguity, but he didn't let them.
“Knowing him the way he is, knowing he is a great kid and somebody who probably in the worst way wanted to play, but just was so tentative he wasn’t right," Calipari said. "He didn’t trust it yet and you gotta respect that."
Had Rose been more absolute in his personal prognosis, then perhaps more of us would have.
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