NEW YORK -- The body is undeniably achy, maybe more sore than he ever expected after just one game back. But the ears?
No worries there for Derrick Rose.
It didn't take him any time at all Wednesday night, from the far end of the Team USA bench, to make out that somewhat Jeter-ish chant ringing around Madison Square Garden halfway through the second quarter.
And then halfway through the third quarter.
And again on multiple occasions in the fourth.
Der-rick Rose ... Der-rick Rose ... Der-rick Rose ...
"The crowd, them chanting your name four or five times, I'm like, 'Come on,'" Rose said after Team USA's 105-62 demolition of the Dominican Republic.
"I want to be out there, but at the same time, my health is the No. 1 issue right now."
It was an issue once more, on this occasion, because Rose was unexpectedly held out of a game he was supposed to play. He went through the morning shootaround, returned in his red, white and blue sweats for pregame warmups and appeared poised to come off the bench behind Kyrie Irving after sitting out two practices, only for Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski to decide that the Chicago Bulls' star guard would get one more night off in this cautious comeback from two major knee injuries.
Yet neither Rose nor Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who happens to be as close to this comeback as he could conceivably be as one of Krzyzewski's Team USA assistants, is prepared to hit the pause button.
Rose did admit to some frustration about being forced to sit no matter how loudly his name was sung in one of the NBA's most storied buildings -- "Come on ... here?" Rose said -- but both Chicago guys remain convinced that a late-summer stint as a Team USA role player is the best way to shepherd 2011's most valuable player back to full speed.
"We went in with the idea that, as long as he's feeling good, he's gonna play [for Team USA]," Thibodeau said. "He's gotta play at some point. He's basically been out for three years, so he's gotta play, and I think this is a great setting for him -- as I've mentioned many times -- because of the depth of the team.
"You have Kyrie, Damian [Lillard], James [Harden]; there's so many guys. He doesn't have to play a lot of minutes or have the burden of scoring big. He just has to go out there and find a rhythm and run the team. With all the depth on the team, it's ideal for him. But if he needs rest, we're gonna give him rest. It's gonna be a process for him coming back. There's gonna be some days where he has some soreness. And when he has some soreness, we're gonna be smart."
After insisting that his problem was "general soreness," to use Thibodeau's description, as opposed to knee-specific discomfort, Rose said: "For sure, this is huge for me, just for my game. I don't [have] to go out there and score 25, 30 points every night."
Adamant that his fans "don't have to worry" that his knees are acting up, Rose vowed to practice Thursday and play here Friday night against Puerto Rico and "try to put on a show."