Derrick Rose: I'm more explosive now
"I think I'm way more explosive now," Rose said after scoring 22 points in 22 minutes. "Like getting to the rim. I think I can take contact a little bit better. And as far as jumping-wise, I think I can jump even higher. They tested my vertical -- I increased it by 5 inches. I just didn't show it yet because there's no need to."
Rose said after his first preseason game a week and a half ago that his vertical had improved from 37 inches to 42 inches. Now, after playing in just his third game in almost a year and a half, Rose looks and sounds as confident as ever. He says any worrying about his knee is finished.
"The biggest thing is after you have an ACL or any injury, it's the mental part," Rose said. "And for me not to think about anything no more and actually be reacting to the defense and the offense, it feels great knowing that I'm safe. I don't have to worry about anything at all, even if I go to the hole and get contact and fall any type of way, that I could easily get up and bounce right back and play the way that I normally know how to play."
Rose's left knee caused a stir this weekend as he sat out Saturday's game in Rio de Janeiro due to soreness. He gave fans a reason to calm down Wednesday, showing off his trademark speed and explosiveness.
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"I feel normal right now," he said. "I'm not worried about anything. I don't have any aches or have any nagging injuries or anything. I'm really taking care of my body and really preparing myself for this long season."
Rose said he understands that he will have a target on his back this season, both from fans who are questioning whether he can perform at a high level and from players who will test his every move. He appears to be ready for the challenge.
"I think every team, every player I play against is coming for me," Rose said. "Who don't want to make a name off me right now? I always think about that and take that into consideration when I'm going out there and playing."
Rose said that line of thinking went into his decision not to play last season, despite being cleared by team doctors.
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"Oh yeah, for sure," he said. "I really had to think about it, the double-teams. In this league, you have guys that smell blood, so it makes it easier for them to come at you whenever they want, or at least try you, and make sure you're ready for it. There's a lot of young players in this league doing well now, so I really had to make sure I was all right."
After seeing the way his team has come together over the summer and during the preseason, Rose is convinced the Bulls can win a championship this season if they stay healthy.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "That's the goal. That's our No. 1 goal is winning the title. We're not worried about anything else. We're not worried about what people say about us or what's going on on the outside. We're just about the Bulls and how good we can get every day."