NEW YORK -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said Saturday morning he was unaware of the criticism he's taking for not returning to action from ACL surgery, and while he didn't rule out a return if the Bulls advance to play the Miami Heat in the Eastern semifinals, he will not play Game 7 on Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets.
"That's my first time hearing about (the criticism)," Rose said in his first public comments in nearly a month. "I barely turn on the TV. I'm with my son all day so that's about it."
Former Bulls guard and TNT analyst Steve Kerr said this week that with so many Bulls players fighting through injuries or illness, Rose -- who underwent surgery on May 12, 2012 --- owed it to his teammates to play if he's healthy. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau quickly responded that Rose "owes it to what's right" and said the organization is firmly behind him taking his time with the decision. Rose's teammates also said they strongly support whatever decision he makes.
Rose has been scrimmaging 5-on-5 since Feb. 18 and has been medically cleared to play for two months, but he still doesn't feel confident that his body is ready for game action. And despite the fact Kirk Hinrich missed the last two games with a bruised calf, Joakim Noah is fighting through plantar fasciitis and Luol Deng remained in a Chicago-area hospital Saturday morning with an illness, nobody from the Bulls front office has asked Rose to play.
"No one," he said. "No one. I haven't had any pressure anywhere.
"You hear stuff, people say stuff. I have a lot of people text me, asking if I'm alright because I guess they're paying attention to what's going on in the social media, but I'm far from it. I rarely watch games. If it's not our game I rarely watch it. I know every team, I've been watching their teams the whole year. There's some good teams out there. I saw enough basketball. It's just that I just got to get on the court and play."
Rose didn't rule out the possibility of playing this year if the Bulls advance, but that continues to be unlikely. He admitted he's still struggling with the mental part of playing at his best again.
"I'm still thinking," he said. "I'm still trying to take my time, still the same old thing. If anything changed, trust me I'll let you all know. It's the same. It's still the same. If anything changed, trust me ya'll will know."
Rose said he was still feeling about the same both mentally and physically.
"I'm feeling about the same," he said. "Still being patient, still trying to take care of my body, and just trying to enjoy this time but cheer on my teammates."
Rose acknowledged that it has been difficult sitting on the bench and watching but he sounds like a man who has come to grips with the reality that he will likely sit out for the entire season.
"It's been hard," he admitted. "But I'm able to get past it knowing that my teammates, they're out there playing hard, giving it everything they got so that's all I can could ask for."
Rose dismissed the notion that his brother, Reggie, and his agent, former Bull B.J. Armstrong were telling him to sit out for the entire year.
"If anything it's up to me," he said. "My brother and them can't tell me what to do with my body. They just give me control. I'm in control of the whole process so it's really all on me."
Rose said that the benefit of sitting out the whole year would be that he has more time to get to a place both mentally and physically where he feels comfortable.
"Being healthy, heath-wise," he said. "Where if I do take the whole year off, if I don't play anymore, I know I'm going to come back a better player but I guess my body would be healed more but who knows?"
As he has stated in the past, Rose appreciates that his teammates continue to stand up for his decision publicly.
"It's cool, man," he said. "It gives me some comfort knowing that they see how hard I'm working in the gym, just putting my all into the game. And dedicating and sacrificing a lot of stuff to be a better player. And whenever I come back I know I'm going to be way, way better. But just having that time to relax and be patient and be fully healed, that's the big picture right now."