Derrick Rose: Bulls 'have opportunity'

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's confidence remains high despite the fact the former MVP has played just 10 games in the last two years because of two major knee injuries.

He made that clear during Chicago Bulls' media day on Monday when he reaffirmed his belief that a championship is in his future.

"I try my hardest to stay away from [the predictions]," Rose said. "But we know we have an opportunity ahead of us. It may not be this year, it may not be the next year or whatever, but I know that we have one [in us]. I know I'm going to win a championship soon so I'm not worried about that."

Rose's proclamation came on a day in which confidence permeated the Advocate Center, the Bulls' sparkling new downtown training facility. With a healthy Rose in the fold, alongside All-Star Joakim Noah and former All-Star Pau Gasol, many believe the Bulls have a legitimate chance to win a championship this season.

Obviously, that will only happen with a healthy Rose, a fact the 25-year-old understands. He's also embracing the reality that he will have to answer questions about his health for the rest of his career because of the way his body has broken down over the past few years.

"With these two type of injuries, of course that question ... that's just going to come up," Rose said. "I'm not worried about that. I don't care about when people ask me the question I know that it's always going to be there. I'm always going to have to answer this question for the rest of my career so I'm not worried about that. But for the Bulls fans I could sit here and say a million times that I'll be fine but I think the only way to answer all the critics and everyone asking about me is to actually be on the court and actually playing."

Rose took the first major step in his rehab earlier this summer while participating in the World Cup of Basketball for Team USA. Despite the fact he didn't play very well and struggled to find a rhythm with his shot, the Bulls are excited that Rose was able to start knocking some of the rust off his game.

"I do think where he's at now, I do think he's got total trust in that knee," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. "Thus, there's a confidence level when you see him play and doing some of the things that he does from an athletic standpoint."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau echoed those sentiments.

"He's always confident so that's a good thing," Thibodeau said. "The mental part is probably even more important right now than the physical part. I think his confidence will come from playing. He's got to play again. I thought when he played the three games in a row [in the World Cup of Basketball] he felt great about that. I think that's important. I think that's the only way he's going to get back to being who he is. He's got to play, he's got to practice, he's got to play, he's got to work. And I think good things will come from that."

Rose's first practice came and went on Tuesday without incident as he confidently answered questions about his status and impressed teammates and coaches along the way.

"There really wasn't any emotions like that," Rose said of being back on the floor with his teammates. "I just wanted to get the first one over with. I really want the season to come around. Of course you have to go through this part, it's part of the process of building a team, but when you miss two years you kind of want games right away and that's the position I'm in right now where I wish we had a game [Wednesday] but we got to wait a couple of more days so that we can play."

Thibodeau wants his star point guard to play, but he also understands he must be cautious with how much time Rose sees. While Thibodeau didn't acknowledge a specific plan being in place, he did hint that Rose's schedule could look different than some of his teammates.

"We'll see," Thibodeau said. "That's going to be my answer: We'll see. We got to get him into rhythm. He has to work, he has to play. Most guys over the course of a season ... there's a difference between soreness and being injured. So if he's injured he'll sit. If he can play, he'll play. But just take it day by day, we'll see where he is. It's two years now with the ACL so I think he's gotten the confidence back in that knee. But he's got to shake a lot of rust off."

Rose is just happy to be back on the floor and have the opportunity to help his teammates. After being sidelined for much of the last two years, he sounds emboldened in his chances to stay on the floor this year.

"My confidence in my body, period, is very high," he said. "I know all the work that I put into the offseason and getting back into the shape I'm in right now so I'm not worried about that. The question [about confidence] didn't come up the entire time I was in camp in Vegas. It didn't come up none while I was overseas. ... I never really thought about it or went deep into it. So this is a new journey for me and I'm just trying to take it all in."

Four years ago on media day, Rose wondered aloud why he couldn't be MVP of the league then followed up that question by becoming the youngest MVP in league history. Another four years later and a more mature Rose didn't make the same statement -- he just acknowledged the best thing for him right now is to be on the floor.

"I just want to be healthy," Rose said. "I think that's the only thing I'm worrying about right now. I could care less about the awards. I could care less about any accolades or whatever. I don't care about it. I just want to go out there and win games. If winning games gets me to get to any of them awards that's cool but my biggest goal is just winning a championship."