LAS VEGAS—It was only approximately four minutes of a scrimmage, but just the fact that Derrick Rose was on the court, healthy and looked as if his athletic gifts hadn’t abandoned him was a sight for sore eyes.
Rose participated in the first day of USA Basketball training camp Monday at the Mendenhall Center on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and at least during the portion of practice that the media was allowed to watch, appeared to more than hold his own, using his speed on the defensive end and playing aggressively on offense.
“It feels great. I’m happy that Coach K [USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski] and the coaching staff invited me to the camp, and really just being here, I’m just trying to shake off the rust,” Rose said. “Fun. It’s exciting, actually. The only thing I’m missing is probably my wind. Everything else—making shots, getting people in rhythm, all that—that comes natural to me, especially with how hard I've been working this summer with my jump shot. So play for three or four minutes, Coach K pulled me out. I get rest. I don’t have the whole team on my back. I’ve got other great players out there to take that pressure off. So my job is to bring energy to the game and play defense.”
The former league MVP added that his surgically-repaired right knee—the one in which he tore his meniscus last season, as opposed to the torn left ACL he suffered back in 2012—felt no worse for the wear after the session.
“It’s good. It’s no pain,” Rose said. “That’s the past and right now, I’m in camp with the USA team and hopefully I make it.”
Krzyzewski, a Chicago native, was impressed by what he saw out of Rose.
“He looked great. Very happy. You never know until you see the guys and that, for me today, to put him in stuff and for me to see him personally, it’s important. It’s not just making judgments on the team, it’s how you are going to build the team and so, we have a much better idea of guys right now and that’s the purpose of these four days,” the longtime Duke University head coach said. “Any setting with Derrick in it is an ideal setting, when he’s healthy. The ideal thing is the fact that he looks like he’s healthy and that he’s put a lot of work in, and he really wants it. That’s very exciting for all of us.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a USA Basketball assistant, was also in attendance and broke down not only what he saw from his star point guard, but why participation in the event matters.
“We saw the quickness and the explosion in the summer-league practices, and today I think he was very patient. He found the rhythm of the game and I thought he played well on both sides of the ball. He pushed himself. He picked up full-court. I thought great technique, great effort and he ran the team well, so it’s a good first step,” explained Thibodeau, who coached Rose’s team during the intra-squad scrimmage. “I thought that this experience for him the last time, in 2010 [Rose was a member of the USA Basketball team that won the 2010 FIBA World Championships, prior to his MVP season] was a great experience for him and the thing I do like about this situation for him to come back in is that there’s so many talented players here, he can just fit in. He doesn’t have the burden of having to score a lot of points or make a lot of plays. Just run the team and I think he’ll find his rhythm here. I know how much he enjoys being here and it’s a great group of guys, and it’s very well-run.
“That’s the beauty of this whole thing. At the end of the day, you’re going to have 12 really talented players. So they’re going to have the opportunity—they don’t have to pace themselves. They can go all out for a short period of time and I think that’s why it’ll be so good for him to come back.”