LINCOLN (United States) (AFP) - Former National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose made his pre-season debut on Friday with a plastic mask protecting his ailing left eye and said he hopes to be ready for the start of the season next week.
"This opens it up even more," he said of his chances of taking the floor on Tuesday when Chicago take on Eastern Conference champions Cleveland to launch the 2015-16 NBA season.
"I don't want to jinx myself. But my eye is improving every day. It looks like it's a go for me.
"This gives me a couple of days to really work on it so I'm prepared for Tuesday."
Rose has endured persistent swelling and blurred vision in his left eye after surgery on Sept 30 to repair a fractured left orbital.
Even with the injury, he played aggressively in Chicago's 103-102 exhibition win over the Dallas Mavericks.
"I felt good," said Rose, who finished with eight points, one assist and no turnovers in just over 10 minutes on the court, all in the first half.
"I love the way coach designed everything," he said of the game plan of new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. "He has me running downhill and catching the ball with a live dribble. There are a lot of lanes and so many opportunities to drive. It's open. I love it."
In the past four seasons, Rose has played just 100 games because of various injuries, including surgery on both knees.
His latest injury came when he took an elbow to the face in practice last month. Although the effects have lingered, Rose said he's ready to get the season under way.
"I'm just happy to be running around and get a groove for the game," he said.