He does, however, continue to emphasize his desperate desire to take the floor with his teammates (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune):
"Bad," Rose said, when asked how much he wants to play. "But knowing that my health is the biggest key. I’m only 24 years old. I got the whole future in front of me. I’m just trying to take my time.
"When I got my teammates behind me and they see how hard I’m pushing in practice and I’m seeing how hard they’re fighting for me on the court, it makes me want to go harder. It makes me want to be out there more too. But you have to look at the big picture."
Even the ever-humble and universally revered Rose has not been immune to criticism over these past few weeks. Many expected him to be back on the hardwood by now and are harboring resentment for his continued absence.
Rose has ignored the castigation and incessant pleas to this point. He understands that at 24, it's not about rushing back. It's about the "big picture."
The Chicago Bulls point guard isn't going to do the team or its fans any favors by returning too soon or before he's ready. Aggravating his ACL is the last thing Chicago needs, and watching him struggle to regain his form is not a path anyone wants to see him follow.
Those who have watched D-Rose play, seen him and spoke with him, continue to maintain that he looks good. But again, it's not about looking "good," it's about being explosive; being able to play without thinking.
Or, as Rose himself puts it, it's about being able to come back better than ever (via Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com):
Rose on his explosion: "It's coming. I'm not panicking or anything. If anything I think I'm going to be a better player."— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) March 21, 2013
That doesn't read like a player afraid of anything. He refuses to accept the "good." That's not enough. He wants more.
Is pain gone? DRose: "Still about the same where you warm up a little bit, be loose, then activity picks up and it gets back sore." #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 21, 2013
Do you think Derrick Rose will play this season?
Still in pain, Rose has no reason to rush back—especially if it could put his career in jeopardy. And so, he's remained committed to patience, for the sake of improving and for the sake of his and the Bulls' future.
He wants to come back better, ready to help the Bulls contend for a championship.
As for when that will be, only one knows the answer to that. And it's not even Rose.
"It can be tomorrow where I feel I can play next game," he said (via Johnson). "Nobody knows but God."
Knowing what's at stake and how badly Rose longs to return is something we not only need to accept, but also embrace.