So what is going to be the reaction Friday when Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah make their first appearance in the United Center as members of the New York Knicks?
Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson expect standing ovations.
“They’re going to get a lot of love,” Butler said late Wednesday night after the loss in Boston. “They will probably, definitely get a standing ovation. They’ve done so much for this organization, but even more than that they did so much for the community out there in Chicago.”
Rose was traded to the Knicks for mainly Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant last June, and with Lopez coming to the Bulls it was clear that Noah was going to leave as a free agent. He did, signing a four-year contract with the Knicks, his hometown team. But Noah and Rose even with a disappointing and, at times, dysfunctional final Bulls season marred by injuries to numerous players and trying to adjust to a coaching change stand out as the two players who were most responsible for the team’s best seasons since the championship years, a thrilling conference finals run in 2011, Rose winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Noah winning Defensive Player of the Year, both multiple All Stars and among the most popular players in the NBA and in Chicago at the time. Rose’s three knee injuries and later Noah’s knee and shoulder surgeries slowed their rise and finally left the Bulls outside the playoffs for the first time during their run together. And so a new group began a new era for the Bulls this season. But that last group, and especially those two, thrilled the community when they had the chance.
“He (Rose) should be received well,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. “Derrick did a lot of good things for the city, for the franchise. Obviously winning MVP, having some big moments in some big playoff series. So yeah, I think he’ll be received very well.”
It is a game for the Bulls to get back on the right road, but it’s also a celebration, at least before that game.
“It’s going to be another business kind of game,” said Taj Gibson. “I’m over here; they’re over there. We’re still trying to push forward, felt like (Wednesday) we should have won the game, could have been 4-0. But now we have to go back, evaluate what we need to do better, what I have to do better and focus on trying to get a win Friday.
“We had a lot of fun (playing with Noah and Rose),” said Gibson. “The city was ecstatic, our team was ecstatic. We had a lot of great battles; nothing can ever take away the battles we had, lot of emotions. (Fans) should give them a good standing ovation; blood sweat and tears. They gave a lot of that blood, sweat and tears, but it’s still going to be a business trip for them. If you are going to boo, then boo, but cheer for us because we have to beat them.”
Mixed emotions, and probably plenty of them Friday.