CHICAGO – Derrick Rose couldn't hold it in.
He had just seen a video clip of himself tearing the ACL in his left knee and then rehabilitating the injury. He was asked about his fans' support and the emotions came pouring out, a stream of tears and heartfelt appreciation. His voice cracked as he answered.
"It's truly a blessing with all the stuff that is going on in the city," said Rose, a product of the tough Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. "A kid from Englewood's got something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. ... To have my true fans, that means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to my family."
It hasn't been the easiest time for the Chicago Bulls' superstar. Even so, he can see the improvement.
Rose says his surgically repaired knee is getting better and that he started jumping "a couple days ago," another step in his recovery. He is rehabilitating five days a week in an effort to return this season after that devastating injury.
Rose spoke Thursday at an unveiling of his new shoe and apparel line for Adidas. The 35-minute session was led by a company executive, and he did not take questions about basketball from the media. But the video got to him.
"Derrick is just as authentic as you can get," said Adidas global basketball vice president Lawrence Norman, who moderated the session. "There's no way you can measure that. That's probably the most important thing because that's the most endearing quality to his fans and to all of us."
It's also a big reason why his story — from South Side to stardom with his hometown team and now a comeback from a major knee injury — is such a big focus of the campaign surrounding the new product line. Rose hasn't said much about it since he went down. Other than video clips posted online and an interview with CSNChicago.com, he's been mostly quiet.
Rose tore the ACL late in the Bulls' playoff-opening win over Philadelphia, a huge setback that sent them spiraling toward a first-round exit after capturing the top seed in the East. The injury is expected to keep him out for a major chunk of the season. And even when he returns, it remains to be seen when or even if he'll regain the explosiveness that made him one of the game's best players.
"Everybody says All-Star break (to return), but we don't tell him that," older brother Reggie Rose said. "It's really just his mental psyche. That's the major thing we have to work on and his (confidence) playing with the injury, just knowing it was an injury and it's not still an injury."
Derrick Rose has been rehabilitating in California. That figures to change with training camp starting in a few weeks, but the results so far have been good.
"His body is looking amazing, his core and everything," Reggie said. "Right now, he's running a little bit. He's shooting. I know one of the major things he's going to have to have is his cardio."
Derrick Rose still experiences some soreness in his leg, but he sees the strides.
"I think this is the only time in my life I've worked on my core as much as I do now," he said.
Rose also endorsed his team, even though it'll have a different look.
Not only will the Bulls be missing their star for much of the season, the so-called "Bench Mob" is basically no more. Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer are gone. In their place are veterans Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed, and there was Rose insisting the Bulls shouldn't be written off.
"That's my only goal is to win a championship," Rose said. "Hopefully, it's soon. I'm going to put my heart into it, whatever I do on and off the court. With the team that we have now, we have a good chance. We have a good shot with the players that we have coming in. With the players that we lost, I'm definitely going to miss them. But it's a business first and you're not going to have the same people every year. The players that we have and the coaches that we have, we're just going to have to make do and go out and try to win a championship."
Rose touched on some other subjects during the session, including the upcoming birth of his and his girlfriend's son along with the teachers strike in Chicago. Seeing kids out in the middle of the day when they should be in school isn't sitting well with him.
He's been vocal about it on Twitter, and he reiterated that on Thursday, expressing sympathy for the children and the parents in response.
"It hurts you," he said. "I'm going to have a kid, so this is one of the reasons why I'm thinking about it. I hope they change it soon. I'm praying for them."