Rose says he had to be selfish
Derrick Rose largely stayed silent amid heavy criticism for sitting out the entire 2012-13 season. Now he's answering those critics, saying he had to be selfish with his rehab and is still going through stages of recovery nearly 14 months after ACL surgery.
In an interview with Bulls TV posted on the team's website Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls star point guard said missing the season was "one of the hardest things I've had to go through in my life. After surgery, when you start running, when you have an injury like this, there [are] stages you have to go through. I'm still going through my stages. I'm not done yet, but I think this is the most I've ever worked on my craft and the most focused I've ever been in my NBA career.
"I'm not a selfish guy at all, but having this injury and going through what I had to go through and being smart, it's something that I had to be selfish with. I couldn't worry about anyone else but myself and my health."
Rose, who injured his left knee in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs and underwent surgery May 12, 2012, was expected to return after the All-Star break. He began practicing 5-on-5 on Feb. 18 and reportedly was medically cleared to play in early March.
He never took the court for the Bulls, however, sparking debate about his toughness and loyalty to the team. Without Rose, Chicago upset Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs before losing to eventual champion Miami in five games.
During that series, FOXSports.com's Greg Couch was one of many saying Rose should join his teammates, many of whom were playing with injuries, on the court. Jason Whitlock said the Bulls organization deserved scrutiny, not Rose.
Rose says he wasn't ready.
"When you're in practice, of course it's not like game-like speed, unless it's like training camp," said Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP. "Game-like experience is totally different when you have strategy, this and that, double teams. When I play, I get double-teamed a lot. We play the same defense [in practice] how we play in the game, so there wasn't any double-teams. So I was able to roam around freely. And in a game I wasn't able to take on that double-team yet.
"Every day I was working out like my leg is going to feel better. I was pushing myself every day, eating right, trying to take care of my body so that I can be out there as soon as possible. But it didn't happen."
Rose's teammates and Bulls management never publicly questioned his decision to sit out.
Asked about their playoff push, Rose said, "I was very, very impressed with them. It seemed like they were fighting for me. They saw how hard I was working in practice, just trying to rebuild my leg.
"All my teammates that were going through injuries, they used to tell me don't rush back just because they were going through stuff. So just to hear them say that, they knew I was trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. They made a good run at it. When they were playing, I was telling them things that I saw if they didn't see, or I was just working with them, just to show them I really cared about the team, and like I said they fought for me."