Bulls Insider

Rose, Thibodeau hope Bulls-Knicks rivalry is brewing

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

Amid all the anticipation and excitement for Thursday’s “Joakim Noah Night” at the United Center, there’s also a basketball game to be played.

And it’s a good one.

“I hear about the excitement that’s going on,” Derrick Rose said of the 4-0 Chicago Bulls. “I know it’s great for the city to lock in and understand they have a really good team.”

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau served as Jeff Van Gundy’s assistant coach during those tasty Bulls-Knicks rivalry days during the Bulls’ dynasty. And while an early-season matchup that includes Thibodeau’s 3-1 Knicks isn’t at that level, the league isn’t exactly frowning upon two major markets off to such strong starts.

“They’re both two great basketball cities. So there’s great appreciation for the subtleties of the game — hustle plays, the extra pass, the effort plays, the togetherness, the teamwork, the discipline,” Thibodeau said. “I just remember how fierce the games were. Back then, there were a number of great rivalries, the Chicago-New York one, the Miami-New York one, New York-Indiana. It was a great time in the NBA. Every night was a big night. Hopefully we can get back to that.

“I think the Bulls have a terrific team. They’ve done a great job.”

Tom Thibodeau: Bulls were 'terrific' with offseason additions

The Knicks surprised many by making the playoffs last season. A busy offseason in which they added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier only have heightened expectations. And former Bulls Rose and Taj Gibson are still contributing plenty.


“As he has gained more experience, he has added a lot to his game. When you watch him shoot now, the way his 3 has developed, it sets up his drive,” Thibodeau said of Rose. “It’s still breathtaking when he’s coming at you with a head of steam. I haven’t seen anyone stop him yet. It’s special. That’s his gift. 

“But just understanding the game, it’s sort of like a baseball pitcher adding another pitch. He has seen every defense there is. He knows how to pick everything apart. I don’t think he fights the game anymore. If he gets double-teamed, he makes the right read off it and we usually get a very good shot.”

The Bulls engaged in free-agency talks with Rose and his longtime representative, B.J. Armstrong, before agreeing to terms with Alex Caruso. Rose returned to the Knicks on a three-year, $43 million deal.

How long will Rose play?

“I try to Tom Brady this thing, man, you know what I mean? Play as long as possible. Make sure I take care of my body. And while I’m playing, play with joy,” Rose said. “I don’t have to score 30 points a night anymore to affect the game. I can come out and do what I got to do. I got a great supporting cast.”

Rose knows what it’s like to play in front of a packed, emotional United Center. Thursday night will be fun.

“I don’t have one memory because all of them formed who I am now — the good, the bad, the ugly,” Rose said. “Even leaving here was pretty tough but everything happens for a reason. So when I do come back here, I get this nostalgic feel. Words can’t really explain it.  It’s just a feeling and vibe I get.”

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