TORONTO -- After acknowledging Tuesday that he was thinking about life after basketball as it pertained to his playing schedule this season, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose says he does not understand why so many people were upset by his comments.
"No," he said before Thursday's shootaround. "No, but I could [not] care less."
After coming into this season having played just 10 games in two years, Rose spoke openly Tuesday about how he wanted to keep his long-term health intact. He didn't shy away from those comments Thursday.
"Really, I was just being myself," he said. "As long as I'm being myself, that's the only person I can be, and that's about it. But as far as saying anything, blame me for thinking about the future, I'll probably think different, but that's all I was doing."
Rose conceded that it did bother him that so many people questioned whether he was fully committed to the team.
"Yeah, to a certain degree," he said. "Of course it's going to happen, but at the same time, I can't do anything about it. I just got to let God handle that, and just put every performance and every article behind me every day."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau tried to veer away from whether or not he was surprised Rose hadn't backed off his comments.
"I'm not going to get wrapped up in [that]," Thibodeau said before Thursday's 100-93 win over the Toronto Raptors. "I know who he is as a person. The other day ... I don't know how [the question] was asked. I really don't know how it was answered. Today -- for me with him, as I told him, I don't want him getting sidetracked. I wanted him to have a great shootaround this morning. I want him to be ready to play tonight. Don't get lost in all that other stuff. Make sure that you're concentrating on the task at hand. There are times -- he's going to be asked a million questions. He's navigating through coming back off of two and a half years off. It's a lot. I think everyone has to take a step back, be patient and let him go through this process. He's going to be special again. Just be patient."
However, Rose suffered another potential setback Thursday night, hurting his left hamstring late in the win after scoring 20 points and going 5-for-14 from the floor. He already has missed four games this season because of sprained ankles.
During his brief morning media session, Rose said his two knee injuries the past two seasons have changed his perspective.
"Yeah, just letting me know what's real," Rose said. "As long as I'm being myself and inspiring people the way that I am and touching people the way that I am, that's all I can do, caring about myself and just being positive."
Thibodeau said he speaks to Rose daily and reaffirmed that the point guard is committed to the Bulls, just like his teammates have done in recent days.
"For him, I go more by actions than words, so I see how he's working," Thibodeau said. "He's a lightning rod right now. The same people that were praising him [in his] MVP year are the ones that are criticizing him now. And when he starts playing great again, they'll be the same people that will be praising him again. So for him, don't get wrapped up whether it's criticism or praise. Don't get wrapped up in either one of those things.
"The only person he really has to answer to is himself. Knowing that you put everything you have into each and every day, giving everything you have to the team to win, that's all you can do. Once you do that, you should be good. You should never feel any pressure or anything for that matter. Just commit to the team and winning, and when he does that, it will work out fine."
Rose's teammate Joakim Noah also delivered an impassioned defense of the point guard after Thursday night's game.
"We're a group that's gone through a lot," Noah said. "Just looking at [the situation] as a teammate is just frustrating because I feel like sometimes he's portrayed as something that he's not. You don't come back from the injuries that he's coming back from without an unbelievable commitment ... just watching the league and the power that [the media] have. Sometimes you guys can really portray somebody as something he's not, and to me that's a little disappointing just because I know how much he cares about this game.
"I see it every day. I think we're all in this together. This is not a one-man team. But at the end of the day, we need him; we need him, and I don't want to see him down. I know sometimes it's frustrating, you've got injuries, you've got tweaks. Every time something happens to him, people act like it's the end of the world, and that's f---ing so lame to me. Relax. He's coming back from two crazy surgeries, obviously we're being conservative with him, and when things aren't going right, he's got to listen to his body more than anybody. So everybody needs to chill the f--- out. I'm sorry for cursing but I'm really passionate. I don't like to see him down and he doesn't say that he's down, but I just don't like it when people portray him and judge him because it's not fair to him. It's not.
"We're going to be just fine. We're going to be just fine. We just got to take it -- everybody just needs to chill out. Chill out."
Although Rose might not agree with how his comments were taken by some fans, he understands that everything he does will be put under a microscope as both a former MVP of the league and a player who is trying to climb his way back to an elite level after so many injuries.
"It comes with the territory," he said. "I know that I've been [in the spotlight] ever since I came into the NBA. As far as everything that comes along with my story, missing two years, of course this is going to happen, so I'm not worried about it as long as I'm being myself."