Derrick Rose has played ten games in the past two seasons after suffering two severe knee injuries. He came back last season ready to play, and looked as athletic as ever, but never seemed to find his true footing on the court.
Then he tore his meniscus and saw his second season in a row blow out the window. This time seems different though, Rose has been rehabbing and been deemed 100 percent just in time for team USA camp before the FIBA world cup.
Rose has not been his usual quiet self, recently giving reporters many quotes about his imminent return. He said after his first practice with team USA that his "confidence is through the roof," and when asked how close he was to his former MVP self, he responded with "I'm there man."
There were a few highlights that showed this to be true; a classic two handed tomahawk, and an and-one that sent him spinning to the ground.
Coaching staff pleased
Coaches at camp seemed thrilled with his level of play, with Coach K convinced Rose is better than he was four years ago. At that time Rose's team USA catapulted him into the elite player he is today, as he went on to win the NBA MVP that same season.
Rose is looking to use this camp and experience with team USA to shake off any rust, and get back to competing at a high level. He relished the opportunity to prove his doubter wrong:
"It will be fun. You're going to see a lot of people change, but it will be funny," he revealed recently.
It only helps to have his own coach Tom Thibodeau there at camp with him. Thibodeau may have even given Rose the most reassuring acknowledgment yet by saying that "today, I think he was very patient, he found the rhythm of the game."
That was one thing Rose lacked in last seasons brief return. He was lacking his famous touch around the rim, and seemed to be running faster than he was actually feeling the game. Almost a step too far in front of himself, so patience now will be they key.
Rose acknowledged that very criticism the other day:
"I wanted to prove everyone wrong at the time. I just wanted it too, too bad. This time around, I just know I got to let the game come to me, go out there and just play."
This was only day one of team USA camp, but with a bevy of positivity it looks like Rose may be able to regain his former MVP self. If that happens the rest of the NBA better be on alert, because Rose is coming for them.