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A comfortable and confident Derrick Rose spoke with reporters in Independence, Ohio, after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Saturday practice and the explosive point guard didn’t hold back his excitement when talking about being back in a winning environment and playing free basketball again.
“Being here, the guys, I feel like I’m in a great situation,” Rose told reporters. “Everybody’s focused. I love the staff, I love the front office, I love everything about it and I love Cleveland. That helps a lot. I’ve been preparing myself for this situation, this stage for a long time. Preparing my body, preparing myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, trying to be well-rounded for this stage and for this journey.”
Rose is coming off a season in which he averaged 18 points per game for the New York Knicks, his highest scoring output since he suffered the ACL injury in the 2012 playoffs with the Chicago Bulls.
The 28-year-old’s stats looked sound in 2016-17. But the Knicks were one of the worst teams in the league and Rose’s numbers were overlooked by many — something Cavs star LeBron James admitted was the case on media day.
“I think he [Rose] had a hell of a season last year and people don’t really see it because of all the chaos that was going on in New York,” said James.
Rose demonstrated he still possesses the innate ability to get to the rim at will and finish in traffic. The former MVP shot 47.1 percent from the field with the Knicks and ranked fourth in the NBA in points off of drives — scoring 8.2 a game.
The usually shy Rose opened up about what these past few years have been like, and why this season his mental approach and joy for the game will be in sync.
“I was in a dark place years ago, man,” Rose said. “By a dark place, I mean, I was playing, like, revenge basketball, and that wasn’t my way of playing basketball.
“I enjoy competing, but when I came back it was about just trying to get back to the top and proving everybody wrong. Like, I know who I am as a man, I know who I am as a player. There’s no point in doing that anymore.
“I get to play my game here. Before I made it to the league I think I was a facilitator. The NBA made me into a scorer. I had to score my first year with the Bulls, and I think you’ll be able to see my passing abilities once I’m here. My job is to facilitate, be aggressive at the same time, be a threat always when I get the ball.”
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue and big man Kevin Love praised Rose during media day and the good Rose vibes continued Saturday as well.
Tyronn Lue talking about what Derrick Rose brings to the table for the Cavaliers.
"I didn't know he was such a great passer. He understands how to make the right play".
— #FREEDROSEAGAIN🌹 (@CountOnRose) September 30, 2017