Speaking to the media less than 24 hours after Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau was fired, point guard Derrick Rose praised the former Coach of the Year for taking a chance on him by signing him near the end of last season – long after his once-meteoric rise came to a halt.
But within that praise came a comment that quickly led to a critical response.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Rose began. “Thibs was just the coach that believed in me. He jumpstarted my career, and for that I’ll always be thankful. But to everybody that think that it’s gonna stop, kill yourself.”
Rose, who became the youngest MVP in NBA history in 2011 before injuries derailed his career, was in the midst of an on-court resurgence this season under Thibodeau, who also coached him in Chicago. But Thibodeau was just 97-107 in his two-plus seasons with Minnesota, and the Timberwolves sit in 11th place in the Western Conference through Sunday.
“Even coming here (to Minnesota), everybody didn’t know I was gonna play this way,” continued Rose, who scored a career-high 50 points in a game in late October. “He believed in me, I believed in myself, my family believed in me. … Like I said, for everybody that think that I’m not gonna play the same way, kill yourself, because I believe in myself.”
Shortly after the interview session concluded, Rose took to Twitter to issue an apology.
“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,” wrote Rose. “I did not mean it literally and regret using it so I apologize.”
Rose is averaging 18.9 points per game this season — his most since 2011-12 — and is a contender for this year’s Sixth Man of the Year award.