The 25-year-old point guard’s rigorous play on Monday during the U.S. basketball team’s first practice dictated otherwise.
”I was joking with Kyle Korver, I told him `I’m getting old, man. I’ve got to stretch, I’ve got to use rollers and stuff.’ He looked at me kind of weird,” Rose said laughingly. ”But I feel a lot more mature. I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. I’ve dedicated my whole summer to this. I think I’ve sacrificed a lot for this moment.”
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Rose, the Chicago Bulls star who is coming off two knee injuries that kept him out for much of the last two seasons, said he played roughly nine minutes of the team’s scrimmage during a two-hour practice. He added he was excited about how he felt physically.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski was elated with Rose’s play, saying he was most impressed with his defensive pressure and tenaciousness.
”I think Derrick was a great excitement for us, because you hear about how he’s worked out, but to see him today, I mean, he put it all out,” Krzyzewski said. ”He was playing to exhaustion. That was a big plus for today, to see him. I was pleased that he didn’t hold anything back. He played his butt off.”
Rose, who played just 10 games last season before his season was ended by a torn meniscus in his right knee, said he’s spent much of the summer in Chicago working out, other than a few promotional days in Los Angeles for adidas. He was happy to be back on the court, playing against and alongside other NBA players.
”I work out a couple hours a day (and) I know how much work I’ve put into this; I’m just excited to be here,” Rose said. ”Going out there competing and having fun, to tell you the truth, just having fun, I think that’s the key.”
The 2011 MVP also said he’s felt no pressure to prove himself to anyone, and isn’t trying to play outside the realm he was accustomed to before his initial injury.
”I think last year I was trying to (prove myself) and you see the outcome of that – that wasn’t my game,” said Rose, who is expected to return next season. ”This time around, I know my game and I know exactly what I need to do when I go out there.”
Said Krzyzewski: ”Derrick is one of the great players I’ve had an opportunity to coach. He’s an elite player in the world and he’s coming off of some really unbelievably bad setbacks. The fact is, he hasn’t been defeated mentally; instead he’s gotten stronger and he’ll continue to grow as a player.”
Though he said he was ”really surprised” to see Rose play as well as he did, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called Monday’s first practice a great start for Rose, as it gave everyone an indication the three-time All-Star is ready to play a high-caliber level for the men’s national team and Chicago.
”It was very exciting to see Derrick back on the court,” Colangelo said. ”I expected him to be a little bit more rusty than he was and so that’s big news. That’s big news for us, that’s big news for Chicago Bulls fans.”