Heat forward James Johnson saddened by news that injuries may force friend Derrick Rose to step away from NBA

Injuries have forced Cavaliers guard Derrick Rose to re-evaluate his future in the NBA.(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

MINNESOTA – James Johnson called it “front row seats” to the best and most exciting player in the NBA during his time in Chicago.

Johnson played 78 games for the Bulls in 2009-10 and early in the 2010-11 season, when Derrick Rose was in his prime. He called him “one of the greatest players I’ve ever played with” especially during that 2010-11 season when Rose was the league’s MVP.

So when he learned Rose left the Cavaliers on Friday to re-evaluate his future in the NBA, Johnson said his heart goes out to his friend and former teammate.

“He’s going through a lot right now,” Johnson said. “He keeps coming back from injuries after injuries, it takes a toll on you, just rehab and treatment. It also takes a toll on you when you know you’re not getting back or you’re going through the same repetitive rehab and treatment.

“My heart goes out to that man. I know he wants to get back to the old Derrick Rose, I know how bad he wants to get back to that but there’s more important things than basketball. … (that being) family, health.”

ESPN reported that a Cavaliers source said Rose is “tired of being hurt, and it’s taking a toll on him mentally.” Rose has not been healthy since suffering a torn ACL in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs. Since, he has played in 237 out of a possible 412 regular-season games.

This season Rose, who signed with the Cavaliers after spending one season in New York, has missed 11 games because of a sprained left ankle.

“It’s just a sad thing,” Johnson said. “People get frustrated and they say things they don’t really mean but I really think he’s one of those guys that’s going to miss the game too much to be gone for too long.

“When I was there with him he was asked to do appearances after appearance, fly to Hollywood to do a TV series and turned it down because his words all the time, ‘I’m a basketball player. I’m not a movie star.’”

From 2009-10 until the injury during the 2011-12 playoffs, Rose averaged 22.7 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 46 percent. He played in 198 games.

In the six seasons since he has played in the exact same amount of games and is averaging 17.2 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 43.2 percent.

Johnson is saddened by the “backlash” Rose has received since the injuries started mounting.

“It’s gotten so crazy,” he said. “Every little thing is D-Rose and a wheelchair sign. D Rose out again. Video games they call a time out and walking to bench he gets hurt. C’mon, man. It’s a video game.”

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