Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” he said, per Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Thibs was just the coach that believed in me. He jump-started my career again and for that I’ll always be thankful, but for everybody that think that it’s going to stop, kill yourself.”
He doubled down on the phrase, saying, “Like I said, for everybody that think I’m not going to play the same way, kill yourself, because I believe in myself.”
Rose later apologized for his comments, saying he did not “mean it literally.”
Derrick Rose @drose
I messed up by using the slang term “kill yourself” today in response to a question about whether I can continue to perform without coach Thibs. I did not mean it literally and regret using it so I apologize.
Rose has an extensive history with Thibodeau, who coached him on the Chicago Bulls from the 2010-11 campaign through the 2014-15 season. Rose won a league MVP and helped lead the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals during that time, and Thibodeau provided him another chance with the Timberwolves following a number of significant injuries.
It clearly meant a lot to Rose that Thibodeau still believed in him even though his prime in Chicago is in the rearview mirror:
Malika Andrews @malika_andrews
Derrick Rose reflects on Thibs: “He was the only coach that believed in me… No teams wasn’t looking for me at all. I was basically out the league. Even coming here, everybody didn’t know I was going to play this way.” https://t.co/IUTz7tEUPn
Still, his choice of the words “kill yourself” is head-turning, especially in a league that has seen players such as Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan publicly speak out about the importance of mental health. The league and Players Association even has a mental health and wellness program for players to use.
As for Rose, it is fair to wonder if the Timberwolves will gradually shift away from giving the veteran significant minutes without the history the point guard shared with Thibodeau. That will especially be the case if Minnesota puts additional emphasis on playing younger pieces if it falls further out of the playoff race.
Rose doesn’t seem to think there will be a drop without Thibodeau on the sidelines. He is averaging 18.9 points and 4.8 assists per game behind 48.6 percent shooting from the field. The last time he scored as many points per game was the 2011-12 season on the Bulls.
Rose hasn’t played since Dec. 28 because of an ankle injury, but he said he will take the floor for Friday’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks, per Timberwolves radio voice Alan Horton.