Addressing reporters for the first time since tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee and subsequent surgery to repair it and rule him out for the season, Derrick Rose showed the fire and defiance that's helped carry him towards being one of the league's best players.
“I know my story is far from done,” he said. “(God’s) just preparing me for something big.
“I know that he’s preparing me for something bigger. Of course, right now, when you’re living in the moment, you just don’t understand certain things. I think if I was to look 10 years or so (down the road); looking back, I think that this is going to be minor. It’s something that just happened and I’m never going to stop. I could hurt myself 10 more times. I’m never going to stop. Never.”
Rose suffered the injury in the third quarter of Nov. 22 game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Not that he wanted a second serious injury in the past three seasons (has played a total of 50 games since tearing his left ACL on April 28, 2012) but the point guard said it came at a time where he was just starting to get back to his old form.
“That’s what’s heartbreaking,” Rose said. “I think I put two good games together (prior to Portland). We didn’t win any of the games. I think the way that I performed; I was coming back to myself. The only thing that I wasn’t used to dealing with was shooting with the ball in my hands, or dribbling and shooting. I think my catch-and-shoot (game) was good and it was just a matter of time before I was going to catch my rhythm.”
After the injury, Rose said trainers took him to the visiting locker room and tested his leg, ruling out what would have been a franchise-changing second ACL tear and an MRI the next day revealed the torn meniscus.
“At first, just the process of actually dealing with an injury, it’s kind of frustrating at first knowing that I’m going to miss a long period of time playing the game I love playing,” he said. “It’s tough, right when it happened, but me having these days just to think about it and just being appreciative of me actually going out there and showing glimpses of how I used to play, that’s encouraging – just knowing that I have a bright future. I’m alright. I think that my faith is good, my spirit is good and I’ll be back.”
How soon he will be back is still undetermined as the Bulls have ruled him out for the rest of the season, but the point guard left open the possibility that he could return to join the team for a playoff push if his knee is fully healthy.
“If I’m healthy and the situation is right, I’ll be back playing,” he said. “If I’m healthy and my meniscus is fully healed, of course I’ll be back out there playing. But if it’s something completely different and the outcome is not how I would want it to be, there’s no need.”
While any thinking of him returning at any point before the beginning of next season seems premature, one can’t rule it out. However, it would appear unlikely with how cautious and careful his rehabilitation from left knee. But Rose expects a smoother rehabilitation period having gone through that process.
“Last year was the rehab part and the training part. It was all new to me,” he said. “I didn’t like it. I did it because I wanted to get back on the court, but going through it is hell. This year, I think it should be easier, where I know what to do. I’m walking, able to put pressure on the leg. With the ACL, I wasn't able to put pressure or weight on my leg. I wasn’t able to bend my leg until after three-or-four months. I’m able to bend my (right) leg right now after surgery. This process should be a lot smoother.”
Since Rose’s injury, the Bulls have won just one out of their last five games and the point guard said it’s been tough to watch his teammates battle without him after he put so much into rehabbing and training to come back after surgery to repair his left ACL.
With their championship window appearing to be closed, talks regarding the Bulls have been centered on preparing for the future, with shopping Luol Deng and undergoing roster overhaul in preparation for the future.
When asked his response regarding critics saying that the Bulls should move past building around him because of his health the past three seasons, Rose paused to gather his thoughts; “What can I say to that?.....You can be a fool if you want to. (I’m) dead serious. I know I’m going to be alright.”
Rose said that he hasn’t had time to think about what the future holds for the core of the team, but plans to be active in being around the team, talking to them from the sidelines.
He said that the organization and his teammates have been very supportive, by text messaging him daily and even offering to get him meals. He has told coach Tom Thibodeau that once he loses his crutches, he’s going to add yoga and pool conditioning to his workout regimen to help improve flexibility and his muscles, adding on to a new stretching regimen that he adopted after tearing his left ACL.
Given the style he plays at, most have chimed in with the fact that maybe changing his style of play could save Rose from further injuries. But the point guard said he plays a unique game that he can’t change.
He retreated from the podium not sullen, but head held high and ready to face another obstacle in what’s still the early part of his career.
Doubters have been a big part of what has helped fueled Rose to the heights he’s been able to climb.
He didn’t show any sign of letting those detractors knock him down anytime soon.
“I’ve been in this position my whole life, where I’ve been the underdog,” Rose said. “I could care less what people say about me or criticize my game. How I play is how I play, and that’s hard. I could tear (my knee) 10 more times. As long as I’m playing hard and giving the game my all, I could live with that for the rest of my life.
“If anything, this year evened me out. When I think about it, just the injury, I just turned and this happened – kind of like a freak accident. I put all I had into coming back and if this was to happen 10 more times, I’ll be able to deal with it. I put all that I could do (into returning). You tell me that me turning to go back down the court, I’ll tear my meniscus? I’ll deal with it. I put everything that I had into coming back.”
And you can be sure that he will this time also.