Rose, a star point guard for Axelrod’s beloved Chicago Bulls, tore the ACL in his left knee during a playoff game earlier this year and isn’t expected to hit the court again until 2013.

In an interview featured in the November issue of GQ magazine, writer Jason Zengerle asks Axelrod whether he’s more optimistic about Obama or Rose.

A laughing Axelrod replies, “Well, I feel like Obama has his legs under him right now.”

The political consultant goes on to declare Rose is “at the top of his game.” And, naturally, the campaign guru manages to slip a pitch for the president into his answer about Rose, saying, “One of the things that marks a great athlete, and also a great leader, is the ability to respond to challenges well and to keep calm and focus at times of adversity. I’ve seen that quality in Obama. He’s the classic guy who wants to take the last shot. He doesn’t mind having the game in his hands. Just like Derrick Rose.”

Axelrod adds, “So I expect to see D-Rose back, and I expect to see President Obama there cheering him on.”