Despite Thursday's disappointing loss, the Chicago Bulls are in solid shape heading into the postseason. They seem likely to lock up the top seed in the East before the regular season ends next week, and if Derrick Rose comes back from his nagging ankle problems at 100 percent they stand as one of the top contenders for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. And while Rose's injury is certainly an issue, the Bulls' supporting cast has gained valuable experience and confidence in his absence.
Yet Rose has taken a long time to recover, and Bulls fans are right to be worried. It also turns out that they might want to be concerned by a potential rift with the franchise. According to a source in Rose's camp, he hasn't been too happy with how the Bulls' training staff has treated his ankle. From Aggrey Sam for CSNChicago.com:
Rose's frustration with feeling isolated by his fame was documented in a recent article in GQ Magazine, but the All-Star point guard is also troubled by the lack of attentiveness to concerns he's raised to the Bulls, a member of his camp told CSNChicago.com.
Among those issues is the fact that Rose's most recent ailments-a sprained right ankle and sore right foot-were exacerbated by the team's training staff's insistence on taping his ankles, a practice Rose has consistently fought against, opting instead for ankle braces.
First reported during the nationally-televised broadcast of the Bulls' Thursday-evening loss at Miami, Rose has suffered fluid build-up in his ankles, which the player himself acknowledged before the team's Wednesday morning shootaround in Charlotte, but the cause is reportedly his ankles being taped too tightly.
That information was confirmed to CSNChicago.com by a source familiar with the situation, but when asked about the report following Thursday's loss to the Heat, Thibodeau replied, "I haven't heard that. I don't know where this stuff comes from. We've got a great medical staff, I can tell you that."
This story doesn't suggest that Rose is livid with the team, and up until now there have been no indications that he's unhappy with the Bulls. In many ways, it's a perfect marriage of player and franchise: he's from Chicago, they can pay him more money than any young player in the league and the team is really good. Most players would love to be in this situation.
Then again, young superstars have seemed to get along famously with their teams before, only for things to turn sour because of perceived slights and postseason disappointments. The Bulls and Rose aren't at that point yet, but it's worth paying attention to the situation. Weirder things have happened between teams and their stars.
The good news, of course, is that the Bulls also have plenty of time for these squabbles to dissipate and become part of the distant past. This postseason might go a long way toward determining exactly how Rose approaches his relationship with the Bulls moving forward. If he feels like they're not taking care of him properly, then something will have to change. In the modern NBA, the superstars usually get their way.
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