To Rose, the preseason moment represented the fulfillment of a son's promise to his mother, Brenda, whom he poignantly acknowledged during the news conference with the quote of the year: "Mom, we finally made it."
All those dollars should buy a little common sense.
Even though Rose insisted before Wednesday's game with the Bucks his chronically bad back feels fine, he shouldn't play in Sunday's All-Star Game — just in case.
Sign autographs in Orlando, pose for pictures with Mickey Mouse, shoot a commercial for Adidas, woo Dwight Howard, whatever. But, by all means, stay off the court for the good of Rose and his team — the Bulls, not the East All-Stars.
A player who missed 10 of the first 35 games due to injuries — more than Rose missed in his first three seasons combined — needs rest more than a role in a game that means nothing.
When a meaty second half of the Bulls' regular-season schedule resumes Tuesday, 31 games remain. As many as 28 more could follow in the playoffs. Let's not even bring up the Olympics, when by July what's best for Rose and his aching body threatens to spark an international debate.
That will be compelling then. This is irrefutable now: Rose's health means too much to the Bulls success to take unnecessary risks. The longer Rose's back feels good, the further he can carry the Bulls.
This differs from debating how long coach Tom Thibodeau should leave Rose on the court during blowouts. No argument exists that could convince me Rose playing for the East All-Stars benefits the Bulls in any way.
It was reckless of Bears running back Matt Forte to play in the Pro Bowl after missing the final four games with a knee injury. But at least Forte took his chances after the season had ended. Rose has missed a comparable percentage of his team's games as Forte yet faces greater risks by participating with half of a season left.
Rose's allegiance to the Bulls supersedes any obligation he feels to the league. The fans Rose doesn't want to disappoint by sitting out will understand, especially ones in Chicago who realize nothing else matters this year except beating the Heat. They care about Rose ending LeBron James' season in June more than starting alongside James on Sunday. Nobody figures to remember Rose's All-Star weekend unless, of course, he tweaks his back or suffers a setback.
The NBA frowns on players bowing out of their All-Star extravaganza enough to fine those who do. But like a speeding ticket while driving your pregnant wife to the hospital, some fines are worth paying. Somewhere among the millions Rose earns from the Bulls and Adidas I bet he can scrounge up the petty cash.
All-Star teammate Joe Johnson of the Hawks backed out of the game Wednesday due to tendinitis in his knee. Johnson missing the final two games before the break makes it a slightly different case but, if Rose were looking for an out, it would be no stretch to suggest Rose's back is as chronic as Johnson's knee.
If healthy, the Bulls justifiably believe they can win the East even as the No. 2 seed. Richard Hamilton, a rumor so far, represents a de facto trade-deadline addition by the time he gets rolling in early March. They could use an extra big body — now that Joel Przybilla signed with the Blazers, why not call Rasheed Wallace? — to supplement post scoring and rebounding depth.
They likely won't shake things up beyond that. No, God didn't tell me Dwight Howard never would sign an extension with the Bulls. It's just a hunch.
The rumor about trading Carlos Boozer in a package to the Lakers for Pau Gasol made little sense because the Lakers can get more for Gasol than another shoot-first, play-defense-later forward like Boozer, and if Rose wouldn't lobby for James or Dwyane Wade, why would he push for Gasol?
The only lobbying we know Rose has done lately involved getting back on the court. With an eye on the big picture, the Bulls took their time and did what was best for everybody in dealing cautiously with Rose's health.
All-Star weekend is no time to change that philosophy.