DEERFIELD, Ill. -- On Saturday, Derrick Rose will be on a basketball court in an actual game for the first time in 17 months -- 526 days, to be exact -- since he tore his left ACL in a playoff game against Philadelphia on April 28, 2012.
As the first week of Bulls' training camp winds down against the backdrop of the former MVP's highly anticipated return, Rose reflected Thursday about the journey and how, after all this time, it's like a new beginning for him.
"It is a fresh start," Rose said after practice. "It gives me really a fresh start to go out there and prove myself again."
Rose long ago surpassed all the physical milestones that an athlete recovering from major knee surgery needs to achieve. Despite all the criticism he endured for sitting out the entire 2012-13 season, Rose used the time wisely -- not only getting his knee healthy, but also working on the rest of his body and his game. Among the changes you'll notice: Rose has been working tirelessly on his jump shot, and he's been gradually turning up his aggressiveness on drives to make his return in Saturday's preseason opener at Indiana as seamless as possible.
Getting his wind back is a much bigger concern than the strength of his knee, Rose said.
"This is the biggest stage that you could play on as a player, and it's probably the biggest stage that I've ever played on in my life," Rose said. "So I'm preparing myself for it. Me getting past this, I think it's just going to help my confidence, help me become better as a pro and as a veteran for my team."
An aside: Rose said he did, in fact, receive a phone call from his mother, Brenda, late Wednesday night -- but missed it because he was "knocked out." Earlier Wednesday, Rose said in a moment of hyperbole that he would kill his own mother on the basketball court if she were in his way.
"I don't know how the conversation's going to go today," he said, "but it should be interesting."