By Mike McGraw
Derrick Rose was well-aware that most Bulls fans wanted him to return to the court late last season.
During a video interview posted on bulls.com Wednesday, Rose talked more about why he chose to remain sidelined for the full season.
“I’m not a selfish guy at all, but having this injury and knowing what I had to go through and being smart, it’s something that I had to be selfish with,” he said. “I couldn’t worry about anyone else but myself and my health.”
The idea is that Rose was being smart by staying patient with his rehab. The full effect of that decision won’t be known until Rose again plays in regular-season games, which should happen sometime around Halloween.
“When you’re in practice, of course it’s not like gamelike speed, unless it’s like training camp,” Rose said. “Gamelike experience is totally different when you have strategies, this and that, double teams.
“When I play, I get double-teamed a lot. We play the same defense (in practice) we play in the game, so there weren’t any double-teams. I was able to roam around freely. I wasn’t able to take on that double-team yet.
Rose suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on April 28, 2012, in the opener of a first-round playoff series against Philadelphia. Recovery time was expected to be 10-12 months, and Rose went past that mark before this season’s playoff run ended against Miami.
“It was hard, one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through in my life,” he said. “After surgery, when you start running … when you have an injury like this, there are stages you have to go through,
“I’m still going through my stages. I’m not done yet, but this is the most I’ve ever worked on my craft and the most focused I’ve ever been in my NBA career.
“Every day I was working out like my leg is going to feel better. I was pushing myself every day, eating right, just trying to take care of my body so that I can be out there as soon as possible. But it didn’t happen.”
Rose said becoming a father helped him get through his months of rehab.
“I didn’t want to talk to anyone,” he said. “I just wanted to rebuild my leg and be around my son. That was the time where me having a son is huge for me. It’s real big. My father wasn’t ever in my life, so he’s first, now and with anything.”
While the recovery continues, Rose said he stays in close touch with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“With Thibs, we’re supercool right now,” Rose said. “We talk at least a couple times through the week. Missed his call a couple times. He hates when I do that. He’s someone who loves the game as much as me and that’s pretty hard. You love basketball more than I do, I have to take off my hat to you.”
While Rose worked out in full public view before games late last season, his teammates won a first-round series against Brooklyn without him — at times without Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich, as well.
“I was very, very impressed with them,” Rose said. “It seemed like they were playing for me. They saw how hard I was working in practice, just trying to rebuild my leg.
“All my teammates that were going through injuries, they used to tell me, ‘Don’t rush back just because they were going through stuff.’ So just to hear them say that, they knew I was trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible.
“They made a good run at it. When they were playing, I was telling them certain things (on the sideline) or I was just working with them, just to show them I really cared about the team. Like I said, they fought for me.”
Asked to name a goal for next season, Rose bypassed any health concerns.
“There’s only one goal,” he said, “and that’s to win the championship.”
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