Derrick Rose hasn't played in an NBA game in more than a year as he continues to recover from a torn ACL in his knee, but that hasn't sapped the confidence of the former MVP.
When asked by CNN's Pedro Pinto during a rapid-fire Q&A segment who the best player in the NBA is currently, the Chicago Bulls guard said, "Derrick Rose."
And he didn't flinch when Pinto chuckled and asked him, "Yeah?"
"Yeah," said Rose, who admitted the knee injury was the low point of his career so far.
Rose received some criticism for not returning toward the end of last season or in the playoffs despite being cleared by team doctors, but the Bulls' front office has said the 24-year-old is feeling great and will be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season. Coach Thom Thibodeau went so far as to tell ESPNChicago.com last week that he expects Rose to play starter's minutes during the preseason.
"There will be an adjustment period, but I'm not anticipating there being any problems," Thibodeau told the website while at the Las Vegas Summer League last week. "His overall strength is terrific. He's put a lot of work into his body. I know he's anxious to get out there and play. He's played some pickup but not a lot, but he feels great, and that's the most important thing."
While stating he's the best player in the NBA, Rose did acknowledge the Miami Heat's LeBron James is likely the most difficult player to defend.
"I would have to say LeBron," Rose told CNN. "A 6-8 guy that's 250 (pounds). What do you think?"
Rose rubbed some Bulls fans the wrong way by not returning last season, but he told Pinto that Chicago remains his favorite city in the world.
"Chicago I think is one of those places where if you're not from there but you visit, I think you've got to always keep in touch with it," said Rose. "You can just feel like the energy, the love that the fans or the fans have for each other or the city."