Watching him play in a Team USA scrimmage Friday night in Las Vegas, Derrick Rose looked anything but old, while appearing to be the Derrick Rose of old.
He got to the bucket three times and exploded to the rim as though he wasn't a player who's played in only 10 games the last two seasons.
Rose was lightning fast at both ends of the court, quick off the dribble and distributed the ball with confidence.
But I'm not going down that road again. I picked Rose to be the MVP last season based on the incredible summer of workouts, the amazing training camp and the anger he possessed at being doubted and excoriated.
And when the season started he couldn't shoot to save his life and lasted 10 games before another knee injury.
It was perhaps the worst call since I selected Oakland boss Bob Geren as American League Manager of the Year. He was fired 63 games into the 2011 season.
Nope, not going down that road again, not after he's played 49 games the last three NBA seasons.
However, all the same factors are in play. He seems bigger, stronger, faster and more certain of his abilities than ever.
And, wow, must he be furious at watching the citywide demonization of Derrick Rose.
What feels odd is the huge turn against Rose, from the greatest of all time to mediocre and troublesome.
The feeling here before the injuries was that the Bulls weren't a perennial title contender with only Rose, seeing as how the two Isiah Thomas title teams in Detroit (1989-90) are the only NBA champs in the last 35 years to feature a point guard as the dominant player on his own squad.
And as impressive as was Rose's shocking ascension to MVP, the NBA title was a fantasy with Rose getting pounded and dumped every time he soared among the trees.
This was not a popular conclusion in Chicago, but there was too much history to buy into the Rose euphoria that was at times embarrassing in a media town generally thought of to be more discerning.
But Rose was just about the greatest who ever lived, if you believed everything you read. Rose could do no wrong. The Bulls might win another six titles.
And then Rose made the mistake of blowing out his knee, and since then has gone from a Chicago guy who could do no wrong to just another athlete who can do no right.
It's the demonization of Derrick Rose.
He blew out his knee and somehow that was his fault. His rehab was so dedicated and thorough that he made it back too fast, and then it was his fault that he didn't return to the court after the Bulls leaked a report that Rose was ready to go.
Skewered by so many experts who presumably knew more about Rose's body than he did, Rose's reputation took a major hit as he was pounded for waiting until he felt prepared for a return to the rigors of NBA basketball.
But you can't force a player to play before his mind has caught up to his body. That is a recipe for injury, if not complete disaster.
The Bulls bear some responsibility for fueling that report, seemingly designed to pressure Rose into returning.
When he came back last year and was injured again, that was also his fault for not returning sooner, as if that would have somehow prevented the second injury.
Rose was also at fault when Carmelo Anthony predictably returned to New York for $50 million more than the Bulls could offer. Rose did not, goes the fable, do everything within his power to bring Anthony to Chicago. He did not recruit hard enough. He did not beg.
Fanning the flames recently have been stories about how Rose doesn't see eye to eye with Bulls management on all things basketball and otherwise, one story bringing the wrath of Jerry Reinsdorf in a statement, a denouncement the likes of which we've never seen before from the Bulls and White Sox owner.
And now the attacks against Rose seem at the least absurd and at times illogical.
For the Bulls, these are very strange times, indeed.
What is obvious now is that Rose appears healthy and has every bit the motivation he had a year ago, once again looking to make everyone pay who has burned and buried him.
If he can stay on the court, that anger will serve Rose and the Bulls well.
But in the interest of public well-being, there will be no forecast here for another MVP.
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