Derrick Rose watches warmups Saturday at the United Center. (Reuters )
Waiting for Derrick Rose to come back to the basketball court is the ultimate test of patience for Bulls fans.
The end of the 2012-13 regular season is almost here, and the closest anyone has gotten to seeing D-Rose play has been in practice and during pregame shootarounds.
Everyone wants to know: When is Rose is coming back? Sportswriters get that question from friends and family a few times a day, if they're lucky. On most days, it's more.
So you might think for Rose's teammates, the questions about when he's coming back would be a huge distraction. Not for these Bulls.
"[Waiting on Derrick] isn't hard at all. That's my teammate. It's his body. It's like the same thing with my body. My teammates waited for me to feel right," Taj Gibson said after returning to the court last week from his own knee injury, a sprained MCL. "It's up to Derrick to feel right about playing again and trusting his body."
Daequan Cook is all too familiar with waiting on a superstar teammate to recover from an injury. In 2006, Cook played at Ohio State when future No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden sat out the first few months of the season recovering from wrist surgery. But the reserve guard echoed Gibson's comments.
"It's not really a distraction. We're professionals," Cook said. "It's just important for us to continue to do what we've been doing to get the wins that we've been getting and just know that we've got to keep playing, keep grinding it out and do the things we've been doing."
Second-year forward Jimmy Butler was the only player to say the wait for Rose has been tough.
"I feel like he's going to come back whenever he's ready and he's going to help us whenever he can," Butler said. "It's hard because you know you want your leader to be out there, but we want him to come back at 100 percent. Not 99, but a full 100."
Regardless of how the wait for Rose has affected them, his teammates all get asked: "When is Derrick coming back?" They get asked a lot.
"I get that question probably 40 times a day, between people on the street and people in your family," Gibson said.
"My friends and family ask me when Derrick's coming back a lot," Butler said. "But I just tell them don't worry about it because we don't know. It's all on him. I can't control it."
Said Cook: "Most of my friends and family know that he's going to come back when he's ready to come back; that's the important thing. Asking me isn't going to make him come back any faster. They just leave it alone and wait just like we are."
Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.
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