By Cody Westerlund–
(CBS) What stood out most Friday afternoon in Derrick Rose’s introductory press conference with the Knicks was how welcome he was to the change.READ MORE: Chicago School Board To Discuss 2022 Budget Proposal Wednesday; Teachers Union Demands Redo To Help Students With Trauma
After a career that featured a meteoric rise and then an unfortunate, shocking decline that was marked by three major knee surgeries during an eight-year stint in Chicago, Rose on Wednesday was traded from his hometown Bulls to the New York Knicks in a five-player deal. In his first public comments since the deal, you could sense the weight of expectations, the criticism and the injuries wore on Rose in the recent years.
“I don’t know why I was traded, but I would like to tell them thank you,” Rose told reporters in New York. “For real — giving me another start, I’m grateful to be where I’m at. I could’ve been anywhere — not saying all the other teams are bad places, but to be in this market, to be in a city with this legacy, the history of basketball … I’m grateful to be here.
“I feel like they’re going to appreciate me a little bit more.”
At one point, Rose acknowledged it would be liberating to be away from the hometown pressure. Responding to a different question, he admitted it was tough being traded — in large part because it would mean more time apart from his young son, P.J., who will still be in Chicago.
“It hurt a little bit, but at the end of the day … everything is out of my control,” Rose said. “The only thing I can do is just prep myself to become great.”
Rose was also plenty complimentary of the Bulls and his hometown. He thanked the front office and said he loved all his Bulls teammates.
Rose will wear No. 25 with the Knicks, a nod to the late Ben Wilson, who wore the same number while starring at Simeon. Wilson was tragically murdered outside of Simeon in November 1984.
“Chicago grew me into the man I am,” Rose said.READ MORE: Governor JB Pritzker Signs Amended Code Allowing 22-Year-Old Students With Special Needs To Complete Academic Year
Rose penned a farewell letter to Chicago on The Cycle in which he echoed similar sentiments.
“Chicago made me who I am,” he wrote. “It’s tatted on my wrist. I was raised in my grandmother’s house on South Paulina Street in Englewood. Being drafted by the Bulls, becoming an All-Star and an MVP on the Bulls, helping the them make the playoffs — all of that was a dream come true. I’ll never forget it. I’ve carried Chicago with me everywhere I’ve gone, from around the country to all over the world. I always will.
After averaging 16.4 points on 42.7 shooting and adding 4.7 assists in 2015-’16, Rose believes he still has plenty left in the tank.
“I feel like I’m great right now,” Rose said. “Where I came from as far as getting through my rehabs and just having the opportunity to play basketball, I feel like that was the only thing missing these last couple of years, was my rhythm. I was strong. I felt like my body was strong.”
Predictably, Rose was asked if he feels anything like his 2011 MVP form.
“I feel like I’m close, but me sitting up here and saying it isn’t going to do anything,” Rose said. “Next year, I’m going to let me game speak for itself.”
Rose indicated he hopes to finish his career in New York. He has one year left on his deal before reaching free agency in summer 2017.
“I’m putting my all into this,” Rose said of the upcoming season.
Rose added he wants former Bulls teammate and free agent big man Joakim Noah to join him with the Knicks. And this time, he suggested he’ll play a bigger role in recruiting free agents to New York, a departure from his approach in Chicago, where he was criticized for playing a tepid role in the Bulls’ recruitment of Carmelo Anthony back in July 2014.MORE NEWS: 1 Dead, 1 Injured After Crash Involving Semi-Trailer On Eisenhower Expressway Near Damen
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.