Hardened by critics who turned against him after three knee surgeries derailed a dazzling and historic start to his career, Derrick Rose rarely dropped his guard in public view over what now represent his final few seasons in Chicago.

But sitting at his locker before an April game in Orlando, Rose did just that in an interview with the Tribune.

“I always say to myself that people are going to appreciate me after I’m done,” Rose said then.

That theory will be tested immediately in Chicago after Wednesday’s stunning trade of Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal.

Rose long embraced playing in his hometown. Remember, this is a player who didn’t ask for an opt-out in his maximum extension in December 2011, a time when such clauses were the contractual rage.

Although Rose still loved playing in front of family and friends and remained liked as a teammate, being hyperanalyzed in Chicago became somewhat of a burden. According to someone who talked to Rose after the trade, he’s emotional about leaving his hometown franchise but extremely excited to move to the Knicks and another big market.

“Derrick had to overcome a lot over the years with all the injuries to get back to the point he was,” general manager Gar Forman said. “You really have to admire how he continues to work and fight through everything he’s been through.”

Rose averaged 19.7 points and 6.2 assists in 406 regular-season games with the Bulls. His postseason averages over 41 games were 23.7 points and 7.1 assists. In franchise history, he ranks 10th in points, seventh in scoring average, fifth in assists and third in assists per game.

But the trade cuts short a tenure in Chicago that once seemed destined to last until retirement.

“I think I said five or six years ago, Derrick gave you some clarity,” Forman said. “In other words, in putting together a team, one of the first questions we would ask as a front office is does it fit Derrick Rose?

“Derrick was the MVP the one year and arguably one of the top three or four players in the entire league, so you’re putting pieces together trying to chase that championship. When he goes down, that obviously has an effect in a lot of different ways.”

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©2016 Chicago Tribune

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