With TNT analyst Steve Kerr insinuating the shelved superstar is gutless, Chicago Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich defends Derrick Rose


Derrick Rose is now running from criticism.

With Chicago leading the Brooklyn Nets 3-2 in their first-round series, TNT analyst Steve Kerr said that shelved superstar Derrick Rose “maybe owes it to his teammates” to play for the Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Rose, a three-time NBA All-Star who became the youngest man to ever earn the Most Valuable Player award in 2011, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last April during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Long expected to reemerge at roughly the All-Star break, Rose was medically cleared on March 8 and has been participating in full contact practices for more than a month.

Nevertheless, despite cries from fans and mounting criticism from onlookers like Kerr, the first pick in the 2008 draft remains inactive.

“We don’t feel (like Kerr does),” said Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich, 32, who is expected to miss tomorrow’s contest with a calf injury. “It’s been a very difficult year for Derrick. I’ve never experienced any sort of injury like that. I’m not one to speak on how anybody else’s body feels. We know what kind of guy he is and what kind of teammate he is and we don’t feel that way.”

Thanks to ballsy competitors like Hinrich, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, the fifth-seeded Bulls are on the brink of toppling Brooklyn.

Assuming Chicago trumps the Nets, the Bulls would face the Miami Heat in the second round.

Even with a blooming Rose, the Bulls will get fried by LeBron James and the Heat.

Although calls for Rose to resurface are entirely understandable, it’s hard to fathom the native South-Sider wouldn’t be on the hardwood without a solid reason.

“Know(ing) what kind of guy he is and what kind of teammate he is,” Derrick Rose “maybe owes it to” regain full health and look forward to starting afresh in the autumn.

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