SPORTS

FAMILY 1ST KNICKS 2Nd

Rose returns, says he flew to Chicago to be with his mother, but now `everything is fine'

NY Daily NewsDANIEL POPPER NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Family comes first for Derrick Rose. Less than 24 hours after Rose went AWOL during a home loss to the Pelicans on Monday night, he returned to the Knicks facility and shed some light on the bizarre occurrence that left the organization scrambling to find its missing point guard.
Rose said Tuesday he flew home to Chicago to be with his mother because of a "family issue." He did not elaborate on the nature or details of the problem other than to say, "Everything is fine" and "it's resolved."
The Knicks announced Rose will be fined, but not suspended. Jeff Hornacek said Rose will start Wednesday in Philadelphia if "he's ready to go" and has the proper "mentality."
"It had nothing to do with the team or basketball," Rose said of his impromptu departure. "But that's the first time I ever felt like that emotionally and I had to be with my family."
Rose confirmed he did not notify the Knicks before taking off. He also said he ignored calls from front office officials and teammates while back in Chicago, which explains why information was so limited Monday night.
"I didn't want to take any calls at the time," Rose said. "I just needed that space to myself and needed to be around my mom."
Rose attended morning shootaround on Monday and said he left "an hour or two" after the session ended. He landed in Chicago and spent the afternoon and evening with his family. Rose claims he spoke with general manager Steve Mills during the game Monday night and informed him of the situation. However, the Knicks never relayed the personal nature of Rose's absence to the media.
"I've got a real good relationship with Steve," Rose said.
Rose returned to New York this morning and met with Mills and team president Phil Jackson. He then addressed his teammates.
"Everybody is on the same page," Rose said.
Rose said both Mills and Jackson told him they would have preferred to be notified in advance. "But they understood," Rose said.
Rose regrets not informing the team before leaving. "But when you're in the moment, the first thing I thought of was just getting out there," Rose said. "I really didn't think about nothing else." Hornacek was unaware Rose had been in contact with Mills during Monday night's game. Eventually, Rose responded to Hornacek via text to apologize and explain the situation. Hornacek didn't know the full extent of Rose's predicament until he received that text.
It had nothing to do with the team or basketball. But that's the first time I ever felt like that emotionally and I had to be with my family. DERRICK ROSE
Hornacek is satisfied with the punishment upper management handed down.
"If it was some other reason, it might be different. But family is the most important," Hornacek said. "If a player has that issue and he calls and says, `Hey, I've got a family thing. I've got to go.' There's no way we're not letting him go. So he got caught in it and went. And his explanation with the family is totally understandable.
"We would have loved for him to at least call us and tell us that. But it is what it is. ... Now back to playing basketball." Neither Mills nor Jackson talked Tuesday. Rose wouldn't say if he thought his previous 24 hours had put a strain on his relationship with the organization.
"That's something that you probably have to ask them. I really don't know how they feel," said Rose, who missed virtually all of the preseason while clearing his name in a sexual assault lawsuit. "When I talked to them, everything was cool."
Hornacek benched Rose for the fourth quarters of back-toback games Friday in Milwaukee and Saturday in Indiana. There was some thought that Rose's trip to Chicago was a reaction to his floundering relationship with Hornacek. But both Rose and Hornacek discounted that claim Tuesday.
The Knicks have lost eight of their past nine games entering Wednesday night's matchup with the Sixers.
"That's crazy. I've never had a problem with a coach in my life, no matter what team I've been on," Rose said. "I put that on myself with not telling the Knicks. It was just bad timing. But I'm not perfect. Far from it. ... The front office and my teammates, they knew where I was coming from when I told them what happened."
Hornacek said explicitly that his relationship with Rose is fine.
"He was happy we won," Hornacek said of Friday night. "These guys support each other. And like most players when they don't get into the game, they probably get a little frustrated. But he was happy for our team and never said anything else. And when I talked to him this morning, he said, `Coach, it has nothing to do with basketball. It's all about what I had to do for my family.'"
Derrick Rose is back at Knicks practice Tuesday, after jetting to Chicago, without telling team, to be with his mother. The point guard only says about incident `everything is fine ... it's resolved.' gM Steve Mills and coach Jeff Hornacek (far l.) have dealt with fallout, fining but not suspending star.
RICHARD HARBUS/POLARIS
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