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posted: 9/28/2013 7:24 PM

Motivated Rose good for Bulls, bad for NBA

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  • Bulls guard Derrick Rose, left, center/forward Joakim Noah, center, and head coach Tom Thibodeau pose for photos during NBA basketball media day at the Sheri L. Berto Center on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013., in Deerfield, Ill.

    Bulls guard Derrick Rose, left, center/forward Joakim Noah, center, and head coach Tom Thibodeau pose for photos during NBA basketball media day at the Sheri L. Berto Center on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013., in Deerfield, Ill.
    Associated Press


Derrick Rose knows what you did last winter.

You can see it in his eyes, in his demeanor and in his spectacular physical stature.

As he met the media to open camp, Rose had a look about him that suggests he intends to stick it to all those who doubted him, questioned him, criticized him and crucified him.

In an unprecedented wave of self-righteousness, even for the sanctimonious Chicago sports world, Rose came under attack from every area of the arena. He was told by the fans, media, current players, former players and even his own organization that he should have been playing last spring.

Everyone else knew better than Rose, who had tested his body over and over and arrived at the conclusion that he was not physically ready for what would come his way in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"I never felt like I could take on a double-team," Rose said Friday. "I knew I could get past one person, but in the playoffs you really have to think the game.

"People are going to throw different strategies and defenses at you almost every game. I knew I wasn't ready to take on the double-team in the playoffs, so I had to make the decision that I'm not coming back."

The reality is Rose was tired of being hurt, and he had been hurt almost nonstop the last few years. His goal was to get himself in shape to the point where he wouldn't be nagged by injuries.

There was much more than just the blown-out knee. Rose was taking a beating and he and those closest to him believed that all the injuries added up and may have even contributed to the knee catastrophe.

But that didn't satisfy those who were certain they knew Rose better than Rose knew himself, and most of the criticism followed a report last spring in which the Bulls leaked word that Rose had been cleared to return.

They were trying to pressure Rose back onto the court and there's only a couple problems with that.

First of all, Bulls doctors had said the year before that once Rose was practicing, he was essentially cleared for action. So while not really news, the headline served to turn public sentiment against him.

This is not something Rose is likely to forget, and if he does his closest advisers will certainly remind him.

Besides, if Rose did not believe he was healthy, how dangerous would it have been for him on the floor, and how effective would he have been against teams challenging him physically every time he drove the lane?

"Today he attacked the basket," Tom Thibodeau said Saturday, "a lot more than he ever did last year."

Of all the Chicago athletes questioned for their toughness, it was baffling to hear Rose called "soft," "scared" and "selfish" after watching him become an MVP while playing fearlessly with multiple injuries and flying among the giants.

"The people that criticized him," Thibodeau said Friday, "don't know what the (heck) they're talking about."

It certainly doesn't seem like it.

"Everything happens for a reason and I'm just happy I'm past it," Rose said. "You hear a lot of criticism and my friends bring stuff to me, but there's nothing you can do about it.

"Everybody is free to voice their own opinion. All I can do is continue to work hard and continue to compete as a player."

But Rose banked every word of the bashing and the result was even more motivation as rebuilt his body.

"I worked the whole year, trained my body a whole year," Rose said. "Going out there and showing people that I'm the same player, a more efficient player, that's what I'm trying to prove."

It appears to be much more than that. Don't be shocked if Rose plays like a man possessed this season, and another MVP award would hardly be a surprise.

As for whether the Bulls can ever get past the Heat as long as LeBron James is in Miami, well, they'll have to prove that on the court next spring.

But if ever there were a year, this might be the wrong one to bet against Derrick Rose.

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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