For the first time since his team's playoff elimination to the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls' guard Derrick Rose finally speaks out to update everyone on his condition and discusses how difficult it was for him to miss the postseason.
"I'm not a selfish guy at all," Rose said in a Bulls TV video that aired on the team's website. "But having this injury and knowing what I had to go through and being smart, this is something I had to be selfish with. I couldn't worry about anyone else but myself and my health."
Though he never expected to be sitting out for as long as he did, Rose also addressed what his feelings were having had to miss an entire season.
"It was hard, one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through in my life," Rose told the website. "After surgery when you start running . . . when you have an injury like this there are stages you have to go through. I'm still going through my stages. I'm not done yet. This is the most I ever worked on my craft and most focused I've ever been in my NBA career."
Rose reiterated how badly he wanted to return.
"Every day I was working out like my leg is going to feel better," he told the website. "I was pushing myself every day, eating right, just trying to take care of my body so I could be out there as soon as possible. It didn't happen."
Rose received tons of fan backlash for his decision to sit out, but says the support of his teammates really helped him pull through, even as he watched some of them play with less career-threatening injuries during the playoff run.
"They saw how hard I was working in practice just trying to rebuild my leg," Rose said. "All my teammates that were going through their injuries used to tell me don't rush back just because they were going through stuff."
Back in June, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau came to Rose's aid against the media, saying his decision to forgo an entire season was worth is as he feels Rose's speed and explosiveness are back to where it was before he was injured.
"Watching the way he's moving now, there's a confidence," Thibodeau said. "[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he's there now. He feels great, and that's the most important thing.
"The kid was being totally honest. At the end of the day, you have to respect that. He wanted to be out there very badly. But no one knew when he would be ready, including him. It was a smart decision to wait. If you're not quite sure, and you're going to err, err on the side of caution. That's what he did. And now he feels great."
Rose, who said his only goal now is to win a championship, spoke his relationship with Thibodeau and depicted it as being one of the most rock-solid bonds you'll ever see between a player and his coach.
"With Thibs, we're super cool," Rose told the website. "We talk at least a couple times through the week. I missed his call a couple times. He hates when I do that. (laughs) He's someone who loves the game as much as me. And that's pretty hard. You love basketball more than I do, I have to take my hat off to you."