NEW YORK • Derrick Rose, the 2011 National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player (MVP) apologised on Monday for telling doubters who thought he would not keep playing well for Minnesota to "kill yourself".
The 30-year-old, who became the youngest MVP at 22 while at the Chicago Bulls, was answering a question about how he would fare in the wake of the Timberwolves firing coach and president Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself," said the injury-plagued Rose.
"Thibs was just the coach that believed in me. I mean, he jump-started my career again and, for that, I'll always be thankful.
"He believed in me, I believed in myself, my family believed in me... But everybody that thinks that it's going to stop, kill yourself.
"It's just not."
He later tweeted an apology, insisting he did not truly suggest suicide or having people harm themselves. He said: "I messed up by using the slang term 'kill yourself' today in response to a question about whether I can continue to perform without coach Thibs.
"I did not mean it literally and regret using it so I apologise."
His comments were especially controversial in a league that has seen players like the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs speak out publicly on the importance of mental health.
The NBA and the players association even have a mental health and wellness programme for players, as reported by the Bleacher Report website.
Rose, who played under Thibodeau at Chicago as well as Minnesota, was a three-time All-Star with the Bulls but multiple knee surgeries stalled his career before a return to form this season.
He has looked more like his former self, averaging 18.9 points and 4.8 assists a game while connecting on a career-high 46.2 per cent of his three-point shots.
The Timberwolves are 11th in the Western Conference with a 19-21 record, two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final Western Conference play-off berth.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS