CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's attitude during Thursday's press conference can be summed up in one word: defiant.
The Chicago Bulls star never wavered in his emotions as he made his first public comments since having surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. He made it clear that he still believes he can come back and be the same player, if not better. He made it clear that he still believes he has a chance to come back this season, and that he doesn't want to recruit players to come to Chicago. But most of all, he made it clear that people shouldn't doubt him.
The 20-minute media session was vintage Rose.
The most intriguing part came after he was asked if he believes the Bulls can still build around him despite all his recent injuries. Rose paused for about 10 seconds while trying to find the right thing to say.
"You can be a fool if you want to," he said. "I know I'm going to be all right."
The problem for Rose is that in that context, there are plenty of fools out there now. Some fans/media believe Rose will never come back and be the same player that he was before the knee surgeries, but the former MVP doesn't care. He thrives around that kind of doubt and will use it as motivation as he tries to make his way back -- again. He views the injury as a positive in the sense that he didn't tear the ACL in his right knee this time around.
"They say usually when you tear your meniscus you tear your MCL or you tear your ACL along with it," Rose said. "It was just the meniscus. So it's something I just got to deal with, but I'm used to being in this position. I've been in this position my whole life as being an underdog. I could care less what people say about me, or criticize my game or whatever, or how I play. How I play is how I play and that's hard. I could tear it 10 more times, as long as I'm playing hard and giving the game my all I could live with it for the rest of my life."
Rose said he doesn't care what people think, but that's only true to a certain extent. He cares deeply about his fans and that's why he wouldn't completely shut the door on a return this season, despite the fact Bulls general manager Gar Forman told ESPNChicago.com that he's "really out" for the year, no matter how far the Bulls may go in the playoffs.
In that regard, Rose handled his press conference about as well as could be expected. What else was he supposed to say when it comes to his future? His game has always been based on speed and power, but a key aspect in his ascent to the game's elite has always been his confidence. He has always believed that he was the best player on the floor. If he starts doubting himself now and saying that he won't ever return to being the same player, then he never will be.
Rose has got to keep thinking the same way in order to make it through another arduous rehab. The issue now for him, and his team, is that he will have to sit and watch for the second straight season. Out of all the mental hurdles he will have to cross over the next six months, that will be one of the toughest for him to clear again.
"It's hard," he admitted. "I could complain and pout about it, but that's not going to do anything. I got a long time until I come back so I'd rather smile than be sad."