NEW YORK—On the day of the Bulls’ Game 7 showdown against the Brooklyn Nets, Derrick Rose claimed he was able to block out his naysayers, despite increasing criticism of his decision not to play.
“That’s my first time hearing about it. I barely turn on the TV. I’m with my son all day. So that’s about it,” the former league MVP said after the Bulls’ morning shootaround Saturday in Manhattan. “I’m feeling about the same, still being patient, still trying to take care of my body and just trying to enjoy this time and cheer on my teammates.
“It’s been hard. But I’m able to get past it, knowing that my teammates are out there playing hard, giving the game everything they got. That’s all I can ask for,” he continued. “Still thinking. Still trying to take my time. Still the same old thing. If anything, trust me, I’ll let you all know. It’s still the same. I swear if anything change, trust me, I’ll let you [the media] know.”
As he’s done repeatedly since returning to Bulls practice in January, Rose again insisted that he hasn’t officially decided not to play this season, which could either be over after Saturday night’s game or will continue next week in Miami, in a second-round series against the defending-champion Heat.
“No,” he responded when asked if there’s any benefit to announcing that he won’t return this season. “Who knows? It’s still in the air where I’m still trying to be positive and still trying to take care of my body.”
However, the point guard also touted the benefits of missing the entire season.
“Being healthy. Health-wise, if I do take the whole year off and don’t play anymore, I know I’m going to come back a better player,” he said. I guess my body will be healed more but who knows?”
Rose bristled when asked if his advisers — specifically his older brother Reggie and his agent, former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong — had influenced him not to play.
“Who said that? If anything, it’s up to me,” the Chicago native said. “My brother and them can’t tell me what to do with my body. They give me control. I’m in control of the whole process. It’s really all on me.”
He also said that not only isn’t he being pressured by the Bulls organization to come back, but he’s appreciative of supportive statements made by his teammates recently.
“No one. I haven’t had any pressure anywhere. You hear stuff. People say stuff. I have a lot of people text me, asking if I’m doing all right because I guess they’re paying attention to what’s going on in social media. I’m far from it. I rarely watch games. If it’s not our game, I rarely watch it. I know every team. I’ve been watching teams the whole year. There are good teams out there. I know basketball. I’ve just got to get out on the court and play,” Rose explained.
“[His teammates’ support is] cool, man. It gives me some comfort. They see how hard I’m working in the gym, just putting my all into the game and sacrificing a lot of stuff to be a better player. Whenever I come back, I know I’m going to be way, way better. Just having that time to relax and be patient and fully heal, that’s the big picture right now.”
Rose tore his left ACL last April 28, in Game 1 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.
After undergoing surgery to repair the injury, Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole gave an eight-to-12 month timeframe for his return to the court.