Derrick Rose goes to the basket against Greg Monroe. (EPA/TANNEN MAURY)

If anyone has an idea of just how fragile and fleeting the career of a professional athlete can be, it’s Derrick Rose. The Chicago Bulls star, who has played in only 10 games over the last two seasons because of knee injuries, spelled out Tuesday why he has taken his return slowly and found himself taking some heat for his explanation.

Somehow, this is seen as a violation of the sports maxim about giving 110 percent all the time and ignoring mortality.

“I’m good, man. I felt like I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out or whatever, but I think a lot of people don’t understand that … when I sit out it’s not because of this year,” the NBA’s 2010-11 MVP said (via ESPN’s Nick Friedell.)

“I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball.”

Rose has plotted a deliberate return, often drawing criticism for choosing to rest rather than push his recovery. He may only be 26, but he epitomizes athletes who, more than ever before, see the long-term and value having a healthy life after sports.

“Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past,” he said. “[I’m] just learning and being smart.”

Rose, who had his highest-scoring game since April 2012 on Monday, has battled back from two significant injuries and has had not one but two sprained ankles already this season. Yet somehow he’s drawing heat for talking about “being smart” in a way that earns points for prudence if not for eloquence. Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune thinks the Bulls’ $95-million man “broke the stupid-o-meter” with his comments:

I’m loathe to tell Rose to shut up because then we’d all be denied new Stupid-O-Meter readings the way we’re being denied Rose’s participation on the court because of the anticipated Herculean demands of standing for “Pomp and Circumstance’’ in about 16 years.

Rose needs a friend. Does Rose have a friend? Rose needs a friend. Because a friend would tell him how dumb he sounds and looks.

I don’t know if that’s his brother or agent putting that garbage in his head, but it’s one of the most embarrassing things a player can say.

Thing is, it’s not just that the statement is idiotic, it’s that he apparently believes it. It’s galling and stupid, and Rose doesn’t seem smart enough to understand why.

Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin thinks Rose doesn’t owe fans his future health.

Rose is a person, an entertainer gifted enough athletically and willing to put in the work to become an NBA player. An MVP. That has provided him a very comfortable lifestyle and a lot of fame. But that alone should not define him — there are things that are more important. He is not there to sacrifice his body for our entertainment (any more than anyone else who chooses to play a professional sport does).

Really, Rose doesn’t owe anybody his future health, not even for $95 million. Aren’t we all growing tired of seeing our athletic heroes hobbled in their old age?