With the Cubs having won the World Series for the first time since 1908, Chicago fans may be too emotionally (or otherwise) hung over to care that Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are returning on Friday night for the first time as Knicks.
Who knows? Maybe there will be a lot of White Sox fans at the United Center who aren’t awash in Cubs love and will give Rose and Noah the business before tip-off.
Rose said he isn’t sure what the reaction will be, but he knows what his reaction is to returning to the city where he played the first seven years of his career and won an MVP award.
“Chi-town,” Rose said. “It’s still the same with me, man. It’s never going to change. I still have my place there. I have a great spot, I love the location. A location where I’m going to keep it in my family for generations, just so that whenever I’m in town or there, we can meet up there.
“There’s no bad blood there at all. I totally understand the business of this game and yeah, there’s no bad blood. I never felt that way about getting traded or me coming to this team. I always took it as a blessing that I had the opportunity to come in this market, this franchise, and to be able to create a culture here.”
Asked if he expects the crowd reaction to be positive, Rose said: “No. That would be a dream. I know I’m going to get some boos here and there, but it’s all a part of the game, all a part of the sport. It’s not going to affect the way that I play and how bad I want to win that game.”
The Knicks (1-3) lost back-to-back games in Detroit on Tuesday night and at home against Houston on Wednesday night. Their defense was subpar in both defeats, allowing 64 points in the first half against the Pistons and 100 points in the first three quarters against the Rockets.
“We’ve got to figure this out,” Rose said. “We’re trying to get better every day. That’s our approach to every game and practice, but it takes time. We’re building a culture here, and it takes time.”
Noah, who went scoreless in 18 minutes on Wednesday night, spent nine seasons with the Bulls before signing with the Knicks as a free agent.
“I know it’s going to be emotional,” he said. “It’s definitely a place where I had a lot of battles, a place that I call like my second home. Honestly, I’m not expecting much. I’m just trying to focus on trying to win a ballgame. It’s a lot easier said than done because there’s a place where we both spent a lot of time really fighting for that city and really fighting for wearing that jersey. It’s going to be strange going against teammates that I battled with a long time.“
The Bulls are planning a video tribute for both players.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he understands why emotions may be high for Rose and Noah.
“It’s like anything else,” he said. “When you go back home, you obviously want to win the game. You’ve got to be careful not trying to do too much. We’ve just got to play within ourselves and not try to do things that we’re not capable of doing. Maybe right now we all think we can score, but we need to figure out who should be the guys that are scoring.”