DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The assembled media was huddled by the interview backdrop inside the Berto Center gym late Monday afternoon when I heard a familiar scream.
It was Derrick Rose.
(Pause for jaw drops and mass hysteria.)
Ah, Rose had just bricked a 3-pointer. Sad-D-Rose face.
So the Chicago Bulls star kept on shooting. And shooting. And shooting.
Rose shot for an hour straight after a no-contact practice Monday, even moving baskets to work with an assistant coach.
To reporters eagerly awaiting him, it felt like a standoff. Who would give up first, Rose, or those eager to hear soothing words about his left-knee soreness?
In the end, Rose, dripping with sweat, spoke for a solid 6½ minutes, touching on his knee, his excitement to play the first home game of #TheRealReturn and even the "Duck Dynasty" costume he wore for his son's first birthday.
After two preseason games that showcased his speed and found his first step as good as ever, Rose's cheery comeback hit a slight speed bump when he was held out of the Bulls' game against the Washington Wizards in Brazil on Saturday with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
It was precautionary, but after Rose missed the entire last season recovering from surgery on the ACL in that knee, pessimists are waiting for trouble. Optimists, too.
Rose's extra work showed the media that the most important knee in Chicago still works and that he should be ready to go Wednesday, when the Bulls test their 3-0 preseason record against the visiting Detroit Pistons.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose and center Joakim Noah -- who hasn't played in a preseason game yet because of a groin injury -- both practiced fully and were expected to play Wednesday.
"My knee is good," Rose said. "I was never worried about it. I could've played [Saturday in Rio de Janeiro], but the front office made the decision to sit me out, so my health is No. 1."
He's No. 1, too, and I'm not talking about the jersey.
For the rest of the season, Rose's knee will be in the spotlight. Player, team and fans alike hope it becomes a nonissue, and there's no reason to believe he'll suffer any serious re-injury to it. Not after all that time off.
But Rose will get some rest now and again, and there will be questions about it. Dealing with that concern is part of Rose's routine now, like extra stretching, and he's fine with it.
Rose said that he knew to expect soreness, "but when it happened, it surprised everyone." He stressed again that the Bulls played it safe; it is preseason, after all.
"It's soreness," Thibodeau said. "We're in training camp right now. This is an important time for us. We want everyone to work, but we also want to be smart. And I think it was unusual with the travel [to Brazil] that was involved, particularly where we played those two games and then we basically flew all night, and we had a lot of stuff going on during the day where guys couldn't get off their feet like they normally would because of all the obligations that we had with the league. So you just want to make sure that everything's good."
Under Thibodeau, the Bulls win very regularly, and they pay the price with various injuries. But any NBA team has to deal with bumps, bruises and, yes, soreness.
Still, when it comes to these early concerns about Rose's knee, Thibodeau noted that any exasperation from fans is spurred on by the media. Not that there's anything wrong with it.
"That's the reality of the way things are," said Thibodeau. "You guys all do what you do, whatever it is that you do."
One thing is for sure: It's not just reporters and fans who are interested in seeing Rose play his first preseason game at the United Center.
"I've been thinking about it a lot," Rose said. "Especially at night, when I'm in bed thinking about the games we've played and what I could have done in the game differently. I'm excited to get back on the court at the UC. It's been a long time since I've been on that court."
A reporter then asked Rose if he regretted doing the infamous adidas commercial last season that showed him back on the court, walking out to a frenzied crowd. The spot was manna for starving Rose fans. Really disappointing manna.
"Not at all," Rose said with a smile. "I think it was a great commercial."
Fact is always greater than fiction.
"This year I hope that commercial comes true, where I brighten everybody's day and everybody will be tuned in," he said.
Don't be sore about the past, folks. Set your DVRs and open the shades. It's Rose season in Chicago.