DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose learned a lesson this summer that all young adults must learn at some point: He's got to grow up.
Since the Bulls were ousted from the Eastern Conference playoffs earlier this summer, the 20-year-old point guard has found himself in two major controversies. First, he had to deal with being at the center of an academic scandal involving Simeon High School and the University of Memphis. A few weeks later, a photo surfaced of Rose allegedly flashing gang signs at a party while he was a student at Memphis. On Thursday, the NBA rookie of the year spoke publicly for the first time since the controversies, and he admitted that it's been an interesting couple of months.
"I'm not a kid anymore," Rose said, after his basketball camp at the Joy of the Game Gym wrapped up for the day. "I'm always in a spotlight. [I'm] the leader probably of this team, [I] gotta be the leader of this team, and I can't do foolish things anymore."
While Rose acknowledged making some bad choices, he denied that he did anything wrong regarding the SAT scandal.
"That didn't bother me at all, I know I didn't do anything wrong," Rose said. "That was up to Memphis what they had to do.
"Coach [John Calipari] told me, 'Don't worry about it.' I definitely wasn't worried about it. I was still working out, so I just let [the scandal] pass."
He used the same strategy when it came to the photo controversy. He said he doesn't remember when it was taken.
"I couldn't even remember the whole [NCAA] championship game, so I know I couldn't remember that night, but I just got passed it," he said. "[I] talked to my mom, [she] told me just don't worry about it, and I'm just looking forward to the future."
That's what he's tried to do all summer. The Chicago native said he's spent most of his time in the gym, working on his jump shot and trying to get better. He's tried to focus on what's ahead of him, including the possibility of making the U.S. National Team next year.
"It's been good, I've looked past the sad parts," Rose said, describing what his summer has been like. "Playing for the USA team, it was fun, playing and competing against all them guys, working out with some of the players, and hopefully I'll make the team."
In the meantime, he's focused on making the Bulls better, although he did acknowledge that the absence of Ben Gordon will be a tough hurdle to get over at first.
"I guess they're looking into the future," he said. "Ben is a great player, one of the best scorers I've ever played with, a great guy. He had to make a business move going to Detroit."
"I'm gonna miss him a lot," he said a few moments later. "He took a lot of pressure off me last year, but we'll have to see this year."
Rose knows he'll have to take a bigger role in the offense with Gordon gone. He wants to fill Gordon's role as the team's go-to scorer late in the fourth quarter.
"I really don't know right now, but I hope I am," he said, when asked about taking shots late for the Bulls. "I missed a lot of 'em last season, but I hope I learn from 'em."
Through all the controversies this summer, Rose's ultimate goal is the same.
"You want to get further [in the postseason]," he said. "You want to get better each year, and know we just want to make it past the first round, and hopefully [win] the championship.
"I'm not looking to get any less as a player, you want to win the championship."