Rose, who had appeared on the show since its debut in July 2001, was the odd man out when the four-man cast was cut in half. Executive producer George Greenberg experimented with a "Tonight Show" format by putting Tom Arnold behind a desk, with former NBA player John Salley at his side.
"I still watched the show, and my stomach turned," Rose said. "I still wanted to be there. I'm a pretty emotional person, and it got to me. It really did. I'm not going to lie. It hurt. It hurt a ton."
Fortunately for Rose, the experiment failed. Rose returned to the show in April and was reunited with Salley. Arnold now appears only at special events. Former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and ex-major league reliever Rob Dibble joined the cast.
"This was a chance to start over," Rose said. "We needed a couple of strong guys to sit next to Salley and myself. We got the two we wanted."
Greenberg said the new cast has already developed chemistry. "When you have four that click, you want to hold on to them," he said. "You want to throw a blanket on them and not let them catch a cold."
So, for now, Rose is back where he belongs. But he isn't taking anything for granted.
"I know well enough that I don't know what's going to happen four or five months down the line," he said. "They don't me owe anything. They gave me a great opportunity. It's been more than anything I ever could have dreamed of.
"I love what I do. I love working because don't tell my bosses this it's not work. I get to go to work and play."
Bilas knew Warriors liked Ike
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was not surprised last Tuesday when Arizona State's Ike Diogu went to the Golden State Warriors as the ninth overall pick in the NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-8 Diogu was not invited to attend the draft in New York because he was not expected to be one of the first 15 players selected.
"I had heard that the Warriors were really interested in him at (No.) 9, so it wasn't a shock," Bilas said. "I've seen Diogu since he was in high school and have always appreciated his game. I was just never sure, because of his height, if the NBA would appreciate it. He's got a chance to be very good in the league."
Bilas said Warriors fans should not be concerned about Diogu's height, or lack thereof.
"I always harp on wing span because I don't care how tall a guy is," Bilas said. "I care how big he plays and how long he plays. Diogu basically plays like a guy who's 6-11 because of the length of his arms."
Bilas had the best line during ESPN's draft telecast when he offered this evaluation of North Carolina's Rashad McCants, who went to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the 14th overall pick.
"If I had nickel for every time he got down and really guarded somebody, I'd have a nickel," Bilas quipped.
If the knock fits, let'em wear it
The Giants will have to watch what they say when they begin a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night at SBC Park. Cardinals broadcaster Wayne Hagin could be listening.
Hagin, a former Giants and A's broadcaster, put his foot in his mouth in March when he said during a radio interview that he had been told Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton "used to be on the juice." Hagin prefixed his remarks by saying, "I know he's going to be mad at me for saying this."
Giants broadcaster Dave Fleming should learn from Hagin's mistake. During Sunday's game in San Diego, Fleming said Giants ace Jason Schmidt should have been able to minimize the damage in the third inning, when the Padres scored five runs after an error by right fielder Todd Linden.
Fleming prefixed his remarks by saying, "Not to knock Schmidt, but ..."
Not to knock Fleming, but ...
Contact Cecil Conley at email@example.com.