Following the Chicago Bulls' Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat—a victory that came without Rose and Luol Deng, no less—Noah was asked about how much pride he took in winning sans the team's star point guard. He then seized the opportunity to come to Rose's defense (via Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com):
Derrick's a brother. And to see him go through this is tough, but at the end of the day it's really funny how quick people are to judge. But people don't know what it's like to lead a team, especially after you tore your ACL.
If you tore your ACL and you have to be the starting point guard and have the expectations that Derrick has, then maybe you can judge, but everybody who hasn't been in that situation before should really shut up because I feel like it's just so unfair to him and to this team. We're fighting, and everybody's going to just s--- on somebody who's been giving so much to this organization. It's crazy to me.
This was the perfect opportunity for Noah to inadvertently impugn Rose. He could have commended his teammates for a job well done without their best player. He could have said Rose's absence wouldn't stop them from winning.
But he didn't take the bait.
Instead, Noah embodied the concept of a team being a family. He called Rose his "brother" and lashed out against anyone and everyone who has criticized the point man.
For those who border on oblivious, he was admonishing a lot of people. The "Hate on Derrick Rose" bandwagon is pretty crowded these days.
Everything the Bulls have done and continue to do is put in the context of Rose's absence. It's all about him and what he is or isn't doing. Whatever the Bulls as an aggregate have done seems to fall by the wayside.
If a Game 7 victory over the Brooklyn Nets didn't change that, a Game 1 win in Miami surely would, right?
Well, apparently not.
Even after pulling off another improbable upset, it was about Rose. And if it was going to be about Rose, Noah was going to use the situation as a platform to defend him, to attempt to put an end to the incessant chatter that has become all too tiring.
Will he succeed? Most definitely not. We know better than that. As long as Rose continues to sit on the sidelines, everything will be about him. It will be about what Chicago has managed to accomplish as well, but more than anything, Rose will involuntarily steal the show.
Perhaps there will come a point (sometime very soon) when Rose's absence can be separated from the Bulls' success. The now-widespread aspersions will never cease to exist (unless he returns), but maybe these playoffs can become more about the Bulls than about Rose.
Maybe, just maybe, Noah's words will resonate with Rose's detractors in time for them to just "shut up" and bask in the grandeur of Chicago's postseason diligence.
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