Derrick Rose confident, focused
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is "way more confident" as he returns to the court for the first time in 18 months following knee surgery, and he said his main focus is leading his team to an NBA title.
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"The thing that drives me is just winning the championship," Rose said Friday at Bulls media day. "That's the only thing on my résumé that I'm missing. This is a great time to do it where everybody is watching. It's the biggest stage you could possibly play on. My teammates are preparing themselves for a big year, and I am too. It should be a crazy, magical year where I think there's going to be a lot of people watching. It should be exciting to the Bulls fans."
Rose will make his return to the court at Indiana on Oct. 5 in the Bulls' preseason opener, his first NBA game action in almost 18 months.
He says not to expect to see something different than the fearless slashing style that won him the NBA MVP award in 2011.
"I think I'm going to play the same way," Rose said. "I think the only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level. I think I'm way more confident in my craft, in my game. I worked out a whole year training my body. Going out there and showing people that I'm the same player but a more efficient player, that's what I'm trying to prove."
I think I'm going to play the same way. I think the only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level. I think I'm way more confident in my craft, in my game. I worked out a whole year training my body. Going out there and showing people that I'm the same player but a more efficient player, that's what I'm trying to prove.” -- Derrick Rose
The top-seeded Bulls' playoff hopes were dashed on April 28, 2012, when Rose tore his ACL in the opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rose said Friday he has watched footage of him getting injured 20-30 times.
"I try to get it out of my mind as quickly as possible because it is in the past," Rose said. "At that time, I didn't train my body the way I train it now. I know that I improved every area on my body, so I should be more balanced than in the past."
Rose became a divisive figure in Chicago, his hometown, after choosing to sit out last season despite being cleared to play late in the season. He never declared himself out, practicing with the team during its playoff run and appearing as though he could return at any time. But Rose said one concern was enough to keep him out for the whole season.
"I never felt like I could take on a double-team," Rose said. "I knew that I could get past one person, but in the playoffs, you really have to think the game and people are going to throw different strategies and defenses at you almost every game.
"I knew I wasn't ready to take on the double-team in the playoffs, so I had to make the decision that I'm not coming back."
Rose said he has no regrets with how his rehab was handled last season and never got caught up in the criticism.
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"Everything happened for a reason, and I'm just happy to be past it," he said. "You hear a lot of the criticism, you hear stuff, my friends bring stuff to me, but there's nothing you can do about it. Everybody is free to voice their own opinion. I can't stop people from saying stuff. All I can do is just continue to work hard and just try to compete as a player and just to better myself as a player."
The Bulls have won the NBA's No. 1 seed the past two seasons they have had Rose on the court, and the expectations are high for a team that won 45 games and a first-round playoff series without him last season.
"I think we've got the right pieces," Rose said. "Everybody that's coming in, it seems like they've got their head on right. You have guys that's been here the whole summer, just improving their games, trying to make the team better. That's all you can ask for when you're dealing with grown men.
"Hearing from my teammates while I was in L.A., it pushed me to become a better player. It pushed me hard in workouts because I didn't want to come into camp out of shape or out of condition when they were on top of their stuff. I'm happy to be here and seeing that everybody is really working hard."
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.