Derrick Rose Not Ready to Exit Stage Left, Yet

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Derrick Rose Not Ready to Exit Stage Left, Yet
AP Images

CHICAGO—We have become accustomed to delays from Derrick Rose.

Still, this one was a bit unexpected.

It came more than 10 minutes into his Thursday press conference, following a Chicago Bulls shootaround in which he could not participate. It came with crutches propped up by his side, in front of an overflow crowd in the United Center media room. It came after a longtime Bulls writer Sam Smith (now working for Bulls.com) asked him to respond to "people" who believe the Bulls should move on without him.

Tick. Tick.

"Um," Rose replied.

Tick. Tick.

"That the Bulls should move on?" Rose asked.

Smith clarified it, adding their concern that Rose can't be trusted because he's been injured two straight years.

Tick.

"Um," Rose said. "What can I say to that?

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Yes, 12 seconds.

"You can be a fool if you want to," Rose said, before breaking into a sly smile.

That was one of Rose's many moments of defiance during his press conference, during which the 2011 NBA MVP reiterated previous positions, about not wanting to recruit other players, not planning to play during offseasons, and not altering the way he plays. Particularly, he deemed this latest injury—a torn meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 23—a freak accident, unrelated to the torn ACL in his left knee that kept him out of the entire 2012-13 season.

"I could tear it 10 more times, as long as I'm playing hard and giving the game my all, I could live it with the rest of my life," Rose said. "I play a unique way of playing basketball, and I can't change it."

Of course, he's played in just 10 games since the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Any doubts that he'll return the same?

"Not at all," Rose said. "I believe that I'm a special player. I think people love the way that I just play. I don't try to impress anyone when I'm playing or anything. It's just the way that I play. I know, I've just a feel for the game. Like I said, I know my story is far from done. I know it is. He's just preparing me for something big."

The big news of the press conference?

Well, that was made when Rose refused to shut off future speculation.

After last season's circus, the Bulls did the smart thing by ruling Rose out for the entire season.

But, when asked if he could return for the playoffs, Rose cracked the door.

Photo courtesy of Ethan Skolnick.

"I mean, if I'm healthy, and the situation is right, I'm going to be back playing," Rose said. "If I'm healthy, and my meniscus is fully healed, of course I'll be out there playing. But if it's something totally different, and the outcome is not how I would want it to be, there's no need."

So, now the watch is on again, especially after Rose spoke of how he can put more weight on this knee than he could put on the left one after ACL surgery, how "this should be an easier process," and how he could actually return even better ("this should even me out").

"My faith is good, my spirit is good, and I'll be back," Rose said.

After 20 minutes of answering plenty of questions but creating more of them, he grabbed those crutches and exited stage left.

But not for good.

And maybe, this time, not even for all that long.

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