Derrick Rose is set to make his much-anticipated return in the Chicago Bulls' preseason opener on Oct. 5. It’s been 18 long months since the former NBA MVP last saw meaningful action, but the expectations for him to succeed that surround him are greater than ever, especially after his latest comments.
As per the staff of ESPN Chicago, Rose spoke to the press at the Bulls' media day about his impending comeback and the level he should be at upon his return.
Instead of giving a cautious, reserved prediction about the way he’ll play, the 24-year-old star did not hold back and spoke honestly:
I think I'm going to play the same way. I think the only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level. I think I'm way more confident in my craft, in my game. I worked out a whole year training my body. Going out there and showing people that I'm the same player but a more efficient player, that's what I'm trying to prove.
When asked about what drives him, D-Rose made it clear there is only one goal at this stage of his career and he’s accomplished everything else he has set out to do:
"The thing that drives me is just winning the championship. That's the only thing on my résumé that I'm missing. This is a great time to do it where everybody is watching."
The three-time All-Star has no choice now but to reach unparalleled success or get destroyed by fans and the media. He’s set the lofty expectations and must live up to them, especially after sitting out in last year’s playoffs.
Rose was on the receiving end of a fair amount of flak this past spring after he decided to not suit up and help the Bulls in the postseason. The point guard was medically cleared and was practicing with his teammates but felt he couldn’t handle the various defenses he would see, as per ESPN Chicago:
"I never felt like I could take on a double-team. I knew that I could get past one person, but in the playoffs, you really have to think the game and people are going to throw different strategies and defenses at you almost every game."
D-Rose is going to see a constant stream of double- and even triple-teams during the 2013-14 campaign, so it’s imperative he comes out and finds a rhythm right away.
He simply can’t afford to fail, not after leaving himself open to such an intense amount of criticism and having the weight of an entire city’s expectations upon him. Rose’s status as a bona fide superstar and one of the game’s best players is at stake, so it is time to step up.