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Bulls moving on past Derrick Rose? ‘You can be a fool if you want to’

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Updated: January 7, 2014 6:43AM



Derrick Rose was taken aback by the question.

“That the Bulls should move on [without me] . . . what do you mean?’’ Rose said Thursday afternoon in his first media appearance since undergoing surgery on the torn meniscus in his right knee.

The question was slightly rephrased. Two knee injuries since April 2012, and only one month of regular-season basketball since, should the Bulls start thinking about life without you?

“What can I say to that?’’ Rose said before going into a 15-second pause. “You can be a fool if you want to.

“Dead serious. I know I’m going to be all right.’’

It was a running theme in an almost 22-minute news conference at the United Center. The session even included some déjà vu from the previous 18-month rehab process, especially when Rose wouldn’t rule out a return this season if the Bulls were to make the playoffs.

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

There will be no need. No matter what Rose says this time around, the likelihood of the Bulls even thinking about bringing him back for an April playoff run is slim to none.

“He’ll do his part, and we have to do our part,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We can’t worry about if he’ll come back or not. Right now, it’s been determined that he’s out for the season, so that’s the way we’re going to approach it.’’

Rose needs to concentrate on being ready for next season. It’s an uphill climb he seems mentally ready to take on.

“I know I am,’’ Rose said when asked if he could still be the same player before the two knee injuries. “A better player. It’s something that just happened. I’m never going to stop. Like I said, I could tear it or hurt myself 10 more times, I’m never going to stop. Never.’’

In the third quarter Nov. 22 in Portland, Rose made a back cut and felt pain in the knee. Three days later, he was back in Chicago having surgery.

The “Why me?’’ roller-coaster ride soon followed.

“I knew right then and there that it was something big that occurred,’’ Rose said.

“I got the MRI. They told me it was my meniscus. The next day or two, I flew to Chicago and got the surgery. I started thinking about why me and all that stuff the day after the surgery.’’

Now, his attitude almost seems to be, “Why not me?’’

Rose talked about a higher power having a plan for him and talked about having more time to become a businessman and having more time to spend with his son.

His approach to the summer won’t differ from the past, which means no offseason pickup basketball, but he did say he would explore trying to catch on with the U.S. world team if all systems were go by then.

His style of play definitely won’t change, and he still has a burning desire to bring a championship trophy to the city he grew up in.

“I play a unique way of basketball, and I can’t change that,’’ Rose said.

Rose was asked if the title chase had moved down on his priority list.

“Oh, hell no,’’ he said. ‘‘I think that’s the only thing that I’m missing.

‘‘You can have all the awards. You can have all the individual stuff. I think my career is going to be judged by championships. That’s the only thing I’m caring about right now.’’

Rose already is putting pressure on the knee, and he has a rehab schedule mapped out that will involve yoga and swimming.

“The ACL? OK, I wasn’t taking care of my body like I was supposed to. . . . But [the latest knee injury], c’mon, man,’’ Rose said.

You can expect Rose to start being around the team more, and he’ll eventually be a fixture on the bench as the season goes on.

He sounded like a player who had all his bases covered. Except for one.

He likely will be returning to a very different team. Luol Deng is a free agent, and Carlos Boozer is a candidate to be amnestied, which means two of the four-man core that the Bulls have built around since the 2010-11 season will be gone.

“Tell you the truth, I haven’t even thought about that,’’ Rose said. “I haven’t had time to.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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