HOUSTON (AP) — Derrick Rose was not getting stitches.
No way. No how.
You see, Rose has a fear of needles. No, make that a debilitating phobia of them.
He was told he needed as many as four stitches to close up a gash above his right eye after a collision during Memphis' 92-74 win over Michigan State on Friday in the South Regional semifinal.
That news ruined any celebration he had in mind after scoring a game-high 27 points despite missing almost eight minutes in the second half dealing with the injury.
Rose came stalking out of the locker room, yelling, ranting and on the verge of tears. He only calmed down when team officials agreed to glue the cut and forget the stitches.
"I'm terrified of needles," he said. "If I would have got stitches, they would have had to stick a needle right above my eye. So I was pouting, stormed out of the locker room. I was mad."
Rose, who is averaging 14 points per game, isn't sure what brought on this fear, but he vividly remembers an event from his childhood that didn't help.
When he was 7, he fell off his bicycle and another child ran over his head with a bike, causing a large wound on the back of his head.
"The nurses at the hospital were holding him down and he was so scared he broke away from them and got up," his mother, Brenda Rose, said in a phone interview. "So they had to tape him to the gurney and do the stitches. He was mad at everyone that day."
But he remembers being miffed at one person in particular.
"My mother helped them strap me down and I was mad at her because she did that," he said.
Considering his problem, some may find it strange that Rose has five tattoos, some rather elaborate.
"You really never see the needle," he explained. "You just see an object that is going back and forth. With a needle, you've got to look at it and, man, it's totally different."
Regardless of his reasoning, his mother still doesn't understand.
"I can't figure that one out, either," she said. "I asked him how he could get a tattoo and he said, 'Those are not going into the skin; they're just tapping.'"
So does he get any, well, needling from his teammates because of the phobia? Chris Douglas-Roberts said there are several players with similar fears and that he joined Rose in refusing to get a flu shot this season because of his own wariness.
"When I heard he was getting stitches, I went down to the room and he told me, 'I'm not getting any stitches,'" Douglas-Roberts said. "I said, 'I don't blame you. I'm not mad at that at all.'"
The Tigers were leading by 32 points when Rose left the game with about 16 minutes left Friday. Things didn't run as smoothly with him in the locker room, and Memphis was outscored 17-4 during his almost eight-minute absence, allowing Michigan State to get within 65-46.
The game wasn't in jeopardy, but Memphis coach John Calipari wanted his point guard back on the floor, saying he was "ready to leave the court and run up and get him myself."
They got the cut glued together before it came to that, but even with a bandage on it, blood continued to trickle out of it when he returned.
It's since been re-glued and looked to be holding nicely Saturday. Rose said he's doing OK and a slight headache he had Saturday morning was gone by afternoon.
The threat of stitches still looms for Rose, though. If it starts bleeding again during practice, stitches will be the only choice.
"I'm just going to have to pray before practice that it doesn't bleed," he said.
If he gets through that, he has a plan for Sunday's South Regional final against Texas.
"If that doesn't work, I'll just have to try and hide the blood from the ref," he said with a smile.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.