ARLINGTON, Tex. -- Derrick Rose scored just eight points and dished out just four assists during Sunday night's All Star Game. He played just 15 minutes and 25 seconds. But, don't let the numbers fool you.
The Bulls' young star improved a great deal during his brief stint playing in front of 108,713 people at Cowboys Stadium. He realized what every great player has to do at some point in his career in order to take the next step in their development.
He realized that he belonged amongst the game's elite.
"Definitely," he said, when asked him if he instantly gained more confidence by playing in the star studded affair. "When I go back I'm going to have way more confidence for the second half. My biggest concern is just winning games, getting to the playoffs. That's what we have to do. Getting even further."
There is little doubt that the Bulls will get wherever they need to go in the future as long as Rose continues to improve -- and stay healthy.
Speaking of which, the hip bruise which Rose suffered when he took a hard fall during Wednesday's loss to the Magic still hasn't gone away. Rose admitted that he was still a little sore, a little sorer than he thought he would be. As he's noted several times this week though, things continue to get better every day -- a good sign for Vinny Del Negro and company.
"I'm much, much better," Rose said, comparing himself to where he was after Wednesday night's game. "I don't have to roll out of the bed anymore. I can just get up. At first I thought I was going to need help when I got down here. But right now I'm getting up, getting treatment. I got treatment early [Sunday] morning at like 8:30, 9 o'clock. It killed me. But it was worth it."
The whole experience was worth it for Rose.
"It was fun, man," he said of playing with the likes LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. "Every fast break was like a highlight reel or something like that. Or an action play. This whole experience I will never forget."
Aside from the memories, Rose learned things this weekend that he will take with him for the rest of his career.
"They are competitive," he said of the game's best. "You should have seen huddles when it was close for us to win towards the end of the game -- how serious it got. They take everything serious. It's all about business. And they're really professionals."
Now, as a certified All-Star, so is Rose. He knows what it takes to be in "the group." And he's willing to do whatever he has to do to stay there.
"I hope so," he said when asked if he was now in "the club." "That's a fine club to be in. It takes a lot of hard work. I know that the way I work, one day it will pay off."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.