It looks as if the one thing everyone can agree on is that Derrick Rose did not, in fact, board a plane to Chicago after practice Friday afternoon. He didn’t miss shootaround yesterday morning, and he didn’t go back to the place where he made such a mark that the Bulls’ Anthony Morrow will have to change his jersey number after fans chided him for taking Rose’s No. 1.
That’s where the agreement ends.
Because while the Knicks insist that Rose was simply joking when he told reporters Friday that he was headed back to Chi-town — Jeff Hornacek seemed downright shocked when he was asked about it then — Rose told a different story before Saturday night’s game.
“I don’t even want to talk about that,” he said. “I was here. I’m here . . . I’m here.” And then, as he was walking away: “I wasn’t trolling, either.”
To translate that from Internet-speak: Rose wasn’t joking around. Shortly after, the point guard was in the starting lineup, scoring 18 points in a 110-109 win over the 76ers on Saturday night.
However, he was uncharacteristically absent for postgame interviews despite heating up in the second half and helping the Knicks hang on during the 76ers’ sudden surge.
Contrast that with a few hours earlier, when Hornacek started laughing when he was asked if Rose had any intention of leaving Friday. “He was messing with you,” he said. “He didn’t go anywhere.”
A Knicks spokesman also said Rose was just joking Friday when he twice said he had a plane to catch.
Of course, the only reason any of this is significant is because of Rose’s previous unscheduled departure. Last month, the point guard missed a game against the New Orleans Pelicans and didn’t tell anyone he had gone to Chicago. The Knicks made him a late scratch that night, and Rose later said he was dealing with a family issue and did not wish to answer the Knicks’ calls.
And though Rose repeatedly has said he loves New York and wishes to stay here, it’s clear many of the fans in Chicago haven’t let go. On Friday, Morrow got to feel the brunt of their wrath, getting pummeled by angry tweets from those who took exception to his taking Rose’s old number.
Morrow apologized on Twitter and said he intended no disrespect. He intends to “change it ASAP,” he wrote.
Said Rose, “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.”
Rose has a tattoo that reads “Sweet Home Chicago,” along with the city’s skyline, on his wrist and hand. His family also lives there. Chicago was part of “me becoming the player that I am right now,” he added. “I was there eight years . . . [and with] the history that we had with one another, me and the fans . . . I respect it.”