It's all hugs and fist bumps until the opening buzzer sounds. LeBron James plans to personally welcome Derrick Rose back from his season-long absence when his Miami Heat take on the Chicago Bulls on opening night.
According to ESPN's Michael Wallace, LeBron actually admires Rose for what he's been through and will have no qualms about greeting him prior to opening tip.
"I'm happy and thrilled that he's back," LeBron said. "I'm happy with what he did last year, to be able to stand strong throughout everything, throughout all of the adversity of everybody criticizing him about what he should do. He did what was best for him."
Best for him, indeed. Rose was a man on a mission during the preseason, appearing in seven games and leading his Bulls to a perfect 8-0 record. He pitched in 20.7 points and five assists per night while shooting 44 percent from deep.
Exhibition contests are rarely flawless forecasts, but the sight of Rose slicing through defenses has fans and players alike giddy.
On the NBA battlefield, there are no friends. Teams and their stars play to win. But they, the players especially, exist to compete against the best. Rarely, if ever, do you hear of players expressing excitement over the loss of a star.
So of course LeBron will welcome Rose back. And he won't be alone, either.
"The game needs him," Wade said, per Wallace. "You never want to see anyone get hurt, especially a player of D-Rose's caliber. Just because I'm a competitor doesn't mean I don't understand the importance of Derrick Rose to basketball."
LeBron and Wade, among others, will likely stop short of joining him on the Bulls bench for timeouts or throwing their warm-ups over sweat spots on the floor so Rose won't slip. And they're not going to place him atop their shoulders and carry him around AmericanAirlines Arena singing, "For he's a healthy good fellow," either.
Pats on the back and words of encouragement will be exchanged, though. Get used to it. Everywhere Rose goes, there will be players ready to offer him congratulations, head tussles and high fives.
"It's just great to see [Rose] back to full strength," LeBron said, via Wallace. "The game is happy to have him back."
For instilling happiness into the NBA, Rose has earned a personal greeting from The King himself. Luckily for him, he doesn't have to worry about what to wear for the occasion.