- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose says his confidence is "through the roof," and he's looking forward to proving his doubters wrong this season as he tries to make his way back from two serious knee injuries.
Rose, who has played just 10 games in the past two seasons because of a torn ACL in his left knee in April 2012 and a torn meniscus in his right knee in November 2013, is confident he will return to being the player he was before the injuries.
He is in Team USA's training camp this week as the group prepares for the World Cup of Basketball in late August in Spain.
"I'm there, man," Rose said, when asked how close he is to playing like his old self. "I'm not worried about that. My confidence is very high, and that's the only thing you might see this year -- that my confidence level is through the roof."
Rose, who hasn't played in an NBA game since Nov. 22, said he felt no pain in his knee during Team USA's first practice on Monday. Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said there were no restrictions on Rose, and he was very pleased with what he saw.
"I was ecstatic about watching him today," Krzyzewski said. "He's better than four years ago. Four years ago, he was 21, and he was just on the verge of becoming who he was going to be. But he had a great practice today. You don't practice like this [every day]. He hasn't been in practices like this. Now [we'll] watch what he does for the next few days."
Rose is emboldened by how much time he has spent working on his body -- and his game -- the past couple years. He said the presence of his baby son, Derrick Jr., has helped give him balance as he tries to make another comeback from his latest injury.
"I really think I'm a special player in my mind," Rose said. "And I still have youth -- I'm only 25. Just doing everything I'm supposed to do in rehab, just strengthening everything, taking it one day at a time and getting the most out of every day. That's why I've been preparing for this moment, really."
Rose acknowledged that criticism he has taken from some Chicago fans, for having barely played in two seasons, has helped push him during this rehab process.
"I can't get mad at that, man," he said. "People are going to say anything. For me, just try to take and try to use it when I work out. Use it as motivation, and try to prove people wrong. I know how special I am as a player. And I know what I still can do."
He also knows how sweet it will be to quiet all his critics if he can stay on the floor and continue to produce at a high level. Rose, at the age of 21, became the youngest MVP in league history during the 2010-11 season.
"It's going to be fun," he said of proving doubters wrong. "You're going to see a lot of people change, but it will be funny. It is what it is. I just know how hard I worked this summer, so going out there competing, having fun ... to tell you the truth, just having fun, I think that's the key."
As far as his on-court work goes, Rose said he just needs to get his wind back in order and knock off some lingering rust.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves as an assistant on Team USA's staff, was pleased with what he saw from Rose on Monday. He said Rose's speed and explosiveness looked the same as ever.
"We saw the quickness and the explosion in the summer league practices," Thibodeau said. "And today, I think he was very patient, [and] he found the rhythm of the game. I thought he played well on both sides of the ball. He pushed himself. He picked up full-court. I thought he had great technique, great effort, and he ran the team well. So it's a good first step."
Rose said he has learned from his latest rehab process and is trying to approach things differently this time around. He said he was pressing through his first 10 games of the past season and is trying to learn from that experience.
"I wanted to prove everybody wrong at that time," he said. "I just wanted it too, too bad. This time around, I just know I got to let the game come to me, go out there and just play. But usually when I play my type of game something positive comes out of it."
For Rose, the biggest positive Monday was there were no setbacks. He is happy he is back on the floor and is trying to enjoy the moment. He believes he is a much more well-rounded player than he was a few years ago.
"My confidence was high, but I didn't know how good I was," he said. "You know how good you are, but I didn't know. Now my confidence is crazy. I know how hard I worked, and I believe I'm one of the hardest workers in the league."
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss