Derrick Rose moving forward and keeping the faith
By Adam Fluck | 09.13.2012
There aren’t many people who can truly understand what Derrick Rose has endured since suffering an ACL injury on April 28.
Because unless you’ve experienced the same rehabilitation process that begins after surgery, which for Rose took place four months ago Wednesday, you may not know what Rose so simply but poignantly shared during an interview this week.
“When I tell you that you’ve got to learn how to walk again, I really do mean that,” said Rose while riding a stationary bike in the Berto Center weight room. “You probably don’t see people until they’ve started walking again and you just assume that they started walking right after the surgery. But after my surgery, I wasn’t able to bend my leg at all. For me, just to bend my leg was a blessing. Now, to see me on the bike right now as I’m doing this interview, it really amazes me.”
The physical challenges that Rose has faced are obvious. But he’s also had to overcome some serious emotional hurdles along the way, realizing he wouldn’t be on the court as his team continued to compete in the NBA Playoffs, and accepting that his road to recovery would be lengthy, eight to twelve months according to Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole.
Rose, however, is not deterred. And he believes he’s past the worst of it.
“I got through the hard part I think,” said Rose. “At first, I couldn’t believe it at all. But now, I have a lot of confidence in myself. My faith in God has grown too along the way.
“I’ve got my teammates and the franchise behind me,” added Rose. “The whole organization is behind me, so I’m good. I know that if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the people here are going to take care of me. So I don’t have anything to worry about.”
Rose is not just saying all the right things. He’s making progress—real progress. When asked what types of activity he can do now that he couldn’t earlier in his rehab, he replied: “Balance. Two months ago, I couldn’t balance at all.”
Choosing one or two significant milestones from the last four months isn’t possible, said Rose. He’s enjoyed too many positive moments—some big and some small—to list.
“I appreciate everything—bending my leg, getting rid of my crutches and braces, sleeping without the brace,” said Rose. “I could go on and on, but I know where I’ve come from and I’ll never forget that. That’s why I say it’s going to make me a better player.”
Furthermore, it is obvious Rose, who became the NBA’s youngest ever MVP in his third professional season, is extremely upbeat about the progress he’s making.
“My rehab is good,” Rose said. “My leg is getting a lot stronger and I’m able to run a little bit more. My body is feeling good. I’m in a peaceful place right now.”
Rose’s state of mind certainly got a boost when he was granted clearance to begin the early stages of participation in basketball activities, even if he’s limited to stationary drills at this point.
“Just shooting, standstill shooting,” Rose said of what he’s done on the court. “Getting my shot together and getting a touch back for the ball. I’m a lot stronger, so I feel that my shot is getting easier.”
Aside from his rehab, Rose has kept close tabs on his team’s offseason moves. He spoke glowingly of the decision to bring back Kirk Hinrich, with whom he played for two seasons before Hinrich was traded to Washington on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft.
“I got my dog back,” Rose said of Hinrich. “I think at the time, I was a little bit too young to appreciate him. Now, knowing what kind of player he is, as well as the type of person that he is—he’s a guy who wants to win. You’ve got to go with that, if anything. I’m the same way where I want to win at everything. So I know that I’m going to have somebody back there who is going to be fighting with me.”
(Courtesy of @drose on Twitter)
Hinrich is likely to assume starting point guard responsibilities until Rose returns.
The Bulls reserves, affectionately known the last two seasons as the Bench Mob, underwent a drastic makeover this summer. C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik have all moved on, with free agents Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Nate Robinson set to take their place. Joining Hinrich in the backcourt will be rookie point guard Marquis Teague, selected with the 29th pick of this summer’s draft.
“I’m going to miss those guys knowing what we went through those two years together,” said Rose of the Bench Mob. “We were the ones that helped build this Bulls image—we played hard. For them to be gone, I’ll definitely miss them, but it’s the league and things change. We’ve got to work with the guys that we have now. We’re still young, we’re hungry and we want to win. I’m with my teammates no matter what.”
While Rose has kept a remarkably low profile this summer, he created a buzz on the morning of Aug. 12, just before Team USA faced Spain for the gold medal in London, when he joined Twitter to wish the Americans good luck.
Since then, he’s amassed over 250,000 followers, a number that continues to grow each day. Rose said the decision to enter the social media world was his and he likes being able to express himself as well as stay connected to his fans.
“I use it here and there, but every time I do, it’s in a positive way,” said Rose, who this week has tweeted several times about his hope that the Chicago Public Schools teachers strike ends soon. “I’m just being myself. Things that I think about, I’m going to say it. It might be some off the wall stuff or some things that you might not think I think about.”
When Bulls training camp opens in less than three weeks, life without Rose on the floor will continue. But it won’t be forever and “The Return,” as adidas reminds us, is coming.
As Rose continues to rehab, many wonder if he’ll be a different player when he steps back on the court. Will he be as explosive? Will he possess the same fearlessness when driving to the rim? Or will we see a refined Rose? Perhaps a few post-up moves with his additional strength to go along with what he believes will be an improved shot?
“I don’t know what to expect,” said Rose. “I just know it’s going to be something good. It won’t just surprise you; it’s going to surprise me as well. I don’t know what to expect.”
When Rose was asked about returning to the level of play that gave the Bulls legitimate hope for another NBA championship, he didn’t make any outlandish claims or brash predictions. Rather, he possessed a serene yet confident nature as he said, “As long as I have my faith in God, I’m good. I know everything else is going to come.”
Rose has a lot of work to do before he’s back and he is the first to admit that. But he sounds as if that day is right around the corner.
“I’m almost there,” said Rose. “I’m staying patient. That’s the biggest thing with this rehab and it’s what has helped me the most. I haven’t always had patience in the past, but now I have it. I’m still working on it and I think it’s going to make me a better player and a better person.”