By the time the fourth quarter of Friday's game passed its midpoint, Chicago Bulls fans in attendance to witness a 23-point loss to the New York Knicks were done trying to egg their team on.
Even the scattered boos that cascaded as the Knicks pulled ahead by as many as 30 subsided at a certain point.
Instead, the boisterous few who stayed until the final buzzer shifted their focus to a different way to get their money's worth: Willing Derrick Rose into the game for the final few ticks.
As the chants raining down from the United Center rafters echoed...
We want Derrick!
Rose has been on the outside looking in of the Knicks' rotation for the last six games. In that span, Tom Thibodeau has opted for younger legs in the backcourt — mainly, Miles "Deuce" McBride — and slid the 34-year-old former MVP into an end-of-bench leadership role, which Rose has handled with grace.
But Thibodeau's heart softened at the thought of Rose receiving his typical hometown reception in the waning moments of a Knicks win. And so he asked the player with whom he's experienced so much if he was ready to suit up.
"I can't repeat what he said," Thibodeau said postgame when asked about that interaction. "But he was excited."
Added Rose: "I can't say it (what he responded) right now, because they said that they'll fine me or something like that. But I told them I'm ready."
And so Rose sprinted from out of the visitors tunnel to a raucous standing ovation, then entered the game at the 3:31 mark of the fourth quarter to "MVP" chants. After he drilled his first 3-point attempt, the crowd swelled again.
"It was amazing," Rose said. "I tried to hold it in. But always getting acknowledged like that, it means a lot. We did a lot here. I'm happy I was able to get in."
Rose said his fiancée and kids were in the stands, and while he was too focused in the moment to look back at them, he saw them right after the final buzzer.
"They crying. They was crying and cheering," Rose said with a smile. "Talking about somebody's cutting onions and all that stuff."
Rose's decorated, yet ultimately fraught, Bulls tenure may have come to an unceremonious end with his 2016 trade to the Knicks, especially because that deal was the start of a transient mid-career phase that featured stops in Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit.
But he maintains his deep appreciation for the city of Chicago, its fans, and the Bulls organization. Even all these years later.
"Always. Always," Rose said when asked if he was surprised by the reception. "You never know how important, or just the way that we played back then, how it affected people. To come here and see all the love and receive all the love that we got, it was unreal.
"That's why I've never talked ill on the franchise or the people from the franchise. When I was here, it was nothing but love. I saw (former Bulls general manager) Pax (John Paxson) before the game, I ain't get a chance to see (Bulls President and CEO) Michael (Reinsdorf). But the way their family showed so much love to me, and Pax, the way he was honest the whole time I was here. It was all I asked for."
Thibodeau understands the deep connection Rose shares with the franchise and city as well as anyone.
"This is home for him. I would say New York is his adopted home, he loves New York," Thibodeau said. "But I think coming back here, it means something to him. And this organization, he meant a lot to the organization, but the organization means a lot to him too."
That duo left Chicago with two wins over the Bulls this week. And each result — an overtime heartbreaker and second-half rout — was demoralizing in its own way for the current team.
But for those few moments at the end of the fourth quarter, the nostalgia clouded the scoreboard.