LOS ANGELES – In the days after his Chicago Bulls lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Derrick Rose(notes) shut himself in his house and put the local pizza place on speed dial. For about a week, the NBA's Most Valuable Player rarely left home.
"Being that close [to the NBA Finals], and not getting it, hurt," Rose told Yahoo! Sports. "I just stayed inside the whole time. I didn't go anywhere else. I wore pajamas, watched a lot of movies, drank Powerade and got delivery food. My body was just sore and wore out. Mentally, too.
"I'm just getting over it. …I know my time will [come] soon. That's how I think about it. I guess you have to pay your dues."
About six weeks later, Rose is back in the gym. He had his first workout here on Monday as he starts to get ready for next season – even though he has no idea when that season will begin.
Rose validated his MVP credentials during the playoffs, playing as well as anyone in the first two rounds. Quietly, however, he was dealing with troublesome wrist and back injuries, in addition to the left ankle sprain he suffered in the first round against the Indiana Pacers. Rose had become used to simply putting on an ankle brace and playing whenever he had previously sprained an ankle. This time, he required an hour worth of treatment before each game.
After averaging 29.8 points and nine assists in the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Rose's scoring dipped to 23.4 points per game on 35 percent shooting in the East finals as the Bulls lost to the Heat in five games. Rose now says he should have been in better shape to handle the strain of the postseason.
"I just learned from last season where my conditioning wasn't up to par at the end of the season," Rose said. "That's what I'm working on this summer, getting my conditioning right. There was just fatigue. My body wore down. Just going through the rounds, the first time being there past the first round, it was hard. I'm just learning from it."
The rest after the season has restored Rose's health. Teammate Luol Deng(notes) also has taught him about the importance of stretching. And Rose knows he'll face a tougher challenge next season. Because of the success LeBron James(notes) had guarding Rose in the conference finals, the MVP expects more teams to use bigger defenders against him.
While it was clear Rose lacked much offensive help in the East finals, he refused to blame his struggles on teammates. He says he needs to improve his shooting, lower his turnovers, finish stronger at the rim and draw more fouls. In his first workout since the season ended, he joined Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook(notes) and trainer Rob McClanaghan on Monday for an hour of intense shooting drills. Despite the layoff, he shot well, appeared to be in good shape and didn't have any injury worries.
"People will say, 'He didn't get that much help,' " Rose said of the Bulls' loss to the Heat. "It's always just been me. I put a lot of pressure [on myself]. What would have happened if I was in better condition? How would I have played? You never know how it would have worked itself out.
"I'm hard on myself, very hard on myself. I think that's why I play the way I play because I hate making mistakes."
Rose was intrigued by the recent news that New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams(notes) has decided to play professionally in Turkey during the lockout, but Rose says he's not seriously considering the option yet. He plans to continue to work out in Los Angeles and is contemplating playing in the local Drew League, a pro-am league.
"I'm trying to stay positive," Rose said. "I don't think negative. I don't think I'm going overseas or anything yet. …You just hope our season starts on time. That's the only thing I can hope for."
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