Derrick Rose likes to go off script.
Or, he's just really confident in himself.
Asked about his latest return, Rose answered in typical Rose fashion, per Bulls.com's Sam Smith:
Good Rose isn't in casinos: Where are you on scale of 1 to 10? "11. I think that I’m back. I’m not worried about my knee anymore."— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) July 31, 2014
On a scale of one to 10, how surprised are you that the Chicago Bulls point guard wouldn't allow himself to be confined to some traditional gradation system?
Wow, me too.
This isn't anything too new or even a little unexpected. Rose has been parroting different versions of the same answer all along.
Per the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson:
DRose: "I feel great. I don't have any aches. I'm really taking care of my body." Then he actually knocked on wood.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 30, 2014
And Smith again:
Question: When will you be Derrick Rose again? Rose: “Now. I’m there.”— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) July 29, 2014
What else is Rose supposed to say when he's regularly asked these questions?
"This whole playing basketball thing is weird. Difficult, too. I'm in a lot of pain. I probably shouldn't be playing for Team USA."
There is only confidence for Rose. He was sure of himself last summer while working his way back from an unrelated ACL injury, and he has faith in himself now as he tries to put this string of season-ending, reputation-rankling setbacks behind him.
These answers, this return is the same story as before in so many ways. And yet, like CBS Sports' Ken Berger underscores, it's also different:
In some ways, the theme is the same as it was in 2013, when he began the long journey back from ACL surgery. The physical work behind him, Rose needs simply to play and compete -- to rediscover his niche and prove to himself and to anyone doubting him that his MVP talent is still there.
There is one key difference, and Rose knows he wouldn't have the perspective to detect it if he hadn't gone through all of this before.
That difference is Rose's patience, his maturity. He doesn't appear to have this nagging desire to prove people wrong and regain his MVP form right away. He knows this is a process—one that's haunted by mystery and all the questions he doesn't and can't yet have answers for.
"Of course, I wanted to prove everybody wrong last year," Rose said, via Berger. "I just wanted it too, too bad. And this time around, I just know that I've got to let the game come to me; go out there and just play."
Playing on is all Rose can do. He can't worry about instantly silencing and appeasing his critics this time around. Nor can he will his 2010-11 self back into existence without a rust-rupturing grace period.
How important is it that Rose himself seems to understand this, on a scale of one to 10?
Most definitely an 11.