Rose confident, strong, and ready as new season approaches
Derrick Rose found himself in a familiar place on Sunday afternoon, standing on the floor at the United Center with thousands of screaming Bulls fans in the building.
And while it was a memorable day for Rose, who was on hand as adidas unveiled his D Rose 4 signature shoe and celebrated his imminent return to basketball, his comeback isn’t complete just yet. First comes training camp, which starts Friday, followed by a week of practice, and eventually, the team’s first preseason game at Indiana on Oct. 5, with the regular season opener on Oct. 29 in Miami.
But, as Rose admitted, it sure was nice to be home in Chicago after a summer where he spent time with adidas traveling throughout Europe and Asia.
“Being back here, me being a Chicago Bull, and seeing some familiar faces is feeling great right now,” Rose said prior to the event.
Rose was the main attraction as adidas and the Bulls partnered to invite approximately 5,000 youth from local community organizations that are active within the areas of youth education, violence prevention and health and wellness. Groups represented in the audience included Youth Guidance, After School All Stars, Chicago Youth Centers, Kroc Center, Mercy Home, Greater Chicago Food Depository, ACE Program, City Year Chicago, Salvation Army, Chicago Bulls College Prep, Urban Alliance, YMCA, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.
The event featured speeches from Rose, performances by Big Sean and Mo Beatz, a trivia contest, shooting competition and a slam dunk contest which Rose judged.
Rose was upbeat throughout the day, perhaps because he could confidently confirm he’s feeling good physically. Adding that he’s experiencing no lingering issues with his surgically repaired knee, he shared that he’s benefitting from a revamped diet.
“Changing my diet is allowing me to have so much energy and really helping me with my training because I’m going into my training, working hard and the next day, not being sore, and still working hard at the same time, pushing myself,” said Rose. “I think it’s allowing me to become a better player.”
Rose has added about 10 pounds of muscle, another factor which will help him as he works his way back into the NBA game. Rose feels the extra strength will not only improve his endurance, but come into play whether he’s attacking the rim or taking a 12-foot jumper.
“I'm usually good at getting and-ones and finishing strong, but with the strength that I just got, I think my jump shot is going to be a lot smoother and I think it's going to help me in the long run,” explained Rose. “When you start thinking about the playoffs and how hard those games are, and even if we make it far, with me continuing to train the same way that I've been training, like twice a week on my legs, and really, my overall body, I think it's going to help me out a lot.”
Rose also made it clear he has no doubts he’ll return to the MVP level that catapulted him to stardom.
“The only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level and that’s knowing that I’ve put so much into my craft,” stated Rose. “I’m working hard. I think I’m one of the hardest workers in the NBA, if not the hardest worker. I think you should see that in my game when I step on the court.”
As for the teammates who will be joining him, Rose said he looks forward to recreating the chemistry that elevated the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011. The same core from that team—Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah—returns this season, with Jimmy Butler set to round out the starting five.
“I think with the team that we have, we have a young team, but we have a group of guys that’s been together for a long time, so that chemistry is definitely going to help us,” said Rose. “[Coach Tom Thibodeau], with him having the knowledge that he has and wanting us to be in a certain place, right in training camp, and just seeing how the guys individually are getting better, I think it’s going to be a good year for the Bulls.”
Quick to credit his teammates who “played their butt off last year,” Rose acknowledges that it may take a little time to shake off the rust that comes with missing an entire season. But, again, he’s confident it’s just another obstacle he’ll overcome.
“For me to come back, who knows when I’m going to get my rhythm?” wondered Rose. “It might take one game; it might take five games, 10 games, who knows? But I think me having that relationship with my teammates and them knowing that, and not just depending on me right away and just knowing that I’m just trying to fit in with them, do my job, where my job is to come in and run the game and get them open shots and play aggressive. So I think if the guys on the team know that and me knowing that, too, I think it’s going to be a smooth year and a smooth process.”
While an event like Sunday’s showcased adidas’ support and belief in Rose, he also expressed gratitude to the Bulls organization for allowing him to work through his rehabilitation processes on his terms and not pressuring him to make an early return.
“It’s been great. Even going through the process, they were behind me the whole time,” said Rose of the Bulls. “There wasn’t any rush. They were telling me to be patient and I listened to them. There wasn’t anyone rushing me [except] for a few media people. But who wouldn’t want to rush a young player that plays the game the right way back? I understand that. It’s a big year and we’re just trying to stay focused and worry about the Bulls. But at the same time, have one goal, and that goal is to win a championship.
“I think it’s close,” added Rose. “With the same team, the nucleus that we have, we made it to the conference finals [in 2011]. With a couple of plays, that could have easily changed the outcome. But like I said, every player's getting better individually. I think everybody's healed up for this big year. We know how big it is.”
All images courtesy of adidas: