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Derrick Rose speaks to the media for the first time since Sept. 30 surgery

There was a swollen eye, a new mask and Derrick Rose talking about taking on an ‘‘alter ego’’ in the wake of his surgery Sept. 30 to repair a fractured left orbital bone.

But Rose made no missteps in addressing the media Thursday and even clarified why he went out of his way to bring up his contract status before training camp, even though he is two seasons away from free agency.

‘‘Everybody knows why I’m here,’’ Rose said when asked about his contract comments and the backlash that came from them. ‘‘That’s why I picked this profession — just to win games, no matter how we win games. It’s all about winning. The No. 1 goal is to win the championship.

‘‘This is my eighth year in the league. I was hoping I would win one before my eighth year, but it’s all in God’s plans, so I’ve just got to follow along with it and keep my goals pretty strict.’’

When asked about the national criticism his comments received, Rose didn’t seem bothered by it.

‘‘No, no, I’m used to it,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I’m numb to it, so numb to it.’’

What he wasn’t numb to was the pain he went through after the surgery. Rose confirmed backup big man Taj Gibson caught him with an accidental elbow on the left side of the face Sept. 29 and recalled the pain he felt coming out of surgery to repair the fractured orbital bone the next day.

‘‘Throbbing; it felt like a blowtorch on your face,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Just having to stay in the house for two weeks felt like I was in jail or something. But just happy to be out, happy to be with my teammates and happy to be back on the same mission previous to this
[injury].’’

Rose said the timetable for his return to game action is still up in the air. But first things first: He got his protective mask before practice Thursday and tried it out for a shooting session.

Rose admitted to being superstitious, so if all goes well with the mask, the Bulls are winning and he’s playing well, he said he would consider making it a permanent fixture.

‘‘I hate getting my face touched, so if it’s a thing where I come out and I’m hot, I’m feeling it, and we’re playing good, you might see it for the rest of my career,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Yeah, I’m going to roll with it. Who knows? It could become an alter ego. Who knows?’’

The Bulls’ immediate plan is to get Rose’s conditioning back up, then have him get into some contact drills next week. Even if there are no setbacks, though, Rose couldn’t answer whether he would be ready in time for the regular-season opener Oct. 27 against the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

‘‘I wouldn’t say that,’’ Rose said of ruling out the game. ‘‘If I’m willing to go and I know there’s nothing in my way, I’ll play.’’

Until then, it’s all wait-and-see.

‘‘This is the first time that he’s been able to get out there on the floor,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. ‘‘He had a full lather going, and now it’s just a matter of how he’s going to respond to that. How does he feel tonight? How does he feel tomorrow morning? Is he going to get a headache? How’s his vision going to respond? So there are a lot of questions before we can make that determination.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com