Inside Derrick Rose and the 2009-10 Bulls


Oct 29

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Finally, the Bulls get to open the 2009-10 NBA season, the 29th team to do so as the Bulls host the San Antonio Spurs at the United Center Thursday.

As we’ve heard, it’s a tough opening schedule. And it’s probably the most difficult opener the Bulls have had in two decades since they opened the 1988-89 season against the Pistons while Detroit was at the top of its game.

The Spurs absolutely dominated the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday. It was so one sided every Spurs starter played fewer than 30 minutes—so much for the difficulty of a back to back—and rookie DeJuan Blair had a rugged 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Parker did take a particularly hard fall and didn’t talk to reporters afterward, so we’ll see his condition.

But it is perhaps a test to measure immediately the challenges facing the Bulls this season:

— Can Derrick Rose, seemingly now healthy, improve his defense, which was weak last season, and contest someone like the speedy Parker?

— Can John Salmons make those deeper shots moving to shooting guard and keep up with guys like Manu Ginobili?

— Can Luol Deng find his offensive rhythm and handle a slashing, scoring forward like Richard Jefferson?

— Can Tyrus Thomas step outside to defend a shooting four like Matt Bonner and run the court against an older power forward like Antonio McDyess?

— Can Joakim Noah at least run a veteran like Tim Duncan to make Duncan work on defense and challenge his offensive moves without being drawn into fouls.

Though we’ll hear plenty of that “it’s one of 82” mantra afterward, and perhaps before, playing the Spurs is a good early measuring stick for a team like the Bulls that probably isn’t sure how good they are or where they fit.

Though one thing that does seem different about this edition of the Bulls is the improved camaraderie. Not that it has been a troubled team filled with bad actors anytime in recent years. But you get the sense, especially with the addition of Rose and the rookie first round picks, there’s more players doing things together than ever before.

Though the Bulls players always seemed to get along well when they were together on the road, they mostly went their own ways or stayed with their personal, outside friends.

Ben Gordon, particularly, was a loner, and Salmons will concede he’s a private person. But there seem to be more group activities on the road than before. It doesn’t mean that much because plenty of losing Clippers’ teams hung out together and had a fine time on the road. When you win, then media and fans decide maybe it’s because of that bond.

In any case, it does make the season go by easier, and Rose talked about that Wednesday.

“We like each other,” said Rose. “It’s a young team and guys really get along. We are young and can talk to one another about anything. We’re always with each other. We love to joke around, play around. It’s a whole bunch of good guys. It’s what makes us so good right now.”

In the preseason, anyway.

Rose’s comments were in his first ever live chat sponsored by adidas and Eastbay to promote the launch of Rose’s new Cut Creator shoe, and Rose was quite the salesman in constantly lauding adidas and insisting he’d never played in a more comfortable sneaker.

In any case, Rose seemed to enjoy the stream of questions that had little to do with his ankle, which he says is fine now and no real problem.

Whatever hopes there are this season for the development of Noah and Thomas and the resurgence of Deng, Rose remains the key figure. He is the All-Star hope of the Bulls, and you start getting serious as a team once you start collecting All-Stars. Last season this time, we weren’t even sure Rose should be a starter. Now he’s the acknowledged star of the team. And he just turned 21 Oct. 4 while the Bulls were in London. Rose said he’s relieved to be 21, likely if only he won’t be kicked out of the casinos in Las Vegas anymore for being underage when the players are there for the Olympic tryouts.

So now that he’s of age and the designated next star of the franchise, here’s a peek at prosaic Derrick from his chat:

— On London: “It was just like Chicago, kind of cold, gloomy. I felt terrible over there because I couldn’t play. They told me to chill, rest until the regular season.”

— On that ankle: “It’s doing fine. I just want to let everyone know it had noting to do with the ankle braces (he wears instead of wrapping his ankles). A seven footer came from behind and stepped on the ankle.”

— His charity priorities: “The pantries for the homeless people in the neighborhood. My mother would go to the pantries when (we didn’t have much). So I wanted to give back to the neighborhood.”

— Shoe size: 12.5. Rose also said he owns 41 or 42 pairs of shoes. He said they are designer shoes and calls them the “old classics.”

— On Twitter: “I don’t like that kind of stuff. I don’t want to get into that.”

— His favorite tattoos: One on his hand with his mom’s name and one with Sweet Home Chicago. He said his favorite is for his mom because “she’s he reason I’m here, the reason I want to play and make it as far as I can. I saw her struggling and did not want her working anymore. It hurts (to get them), but I love tattoos. All my tattoos are great. They all mean something. I don’t get (any) for no reason.”

— Rose’s passion: “I love to watch basketball. I want to be the best at my position. There’s no point playing sports or anything if you don’t try to be the best. I want to win and want people to talk about me.”

— On other sports: “I don’t pay much attention to baseball. I played baseball and lost four or five games in a row and knew it was not my sport. I watch football a little bit. I hear about the Bears. But I don’t get into it a lot.”

— On the Olympic team: “I’m a candidate. I really want to make it. I’ve been going two, three years. I want to play with all the great players to learn from them and be part of history. Im waiting for Coach K. or someone to contact the Bulls organization or my agent and let me know.”

— Sneaker preference: “I wore Nike in high school. Since college I’ve been an adidas guy.”

— His cars: Porche truck, BMW, Maserati.

— Team he expected to play for: “When I came out I thought I’d be going to the Knicks (because of their poor record). That wouldn’t be a bad city to play in.”

— Music: Drake, Jay-Z

— Will he score more this season: “It depends on what’s going on in the game. If I’m hot I’ll go for it. If someone else is having a hot time or feeling it, I’ll give them the ball. My job is to make everyone feel comfortable on the court. We’ve got a lot of good scorers on the team.”

— Does he rap: “A little bit.”

— Girlfriend: “I got a friend. I’m not saying her name.”

— On Ben Gordon leaving: “It hurt at first. A great scorer, one of the best scorers I’ve ever played with. A great veteran, a good guy. It’s the NBA. You don’t play with the same people every year. He had to make a business move and that’s what he did and I wish him the best.”

— The best point guard of all-time: “Isiah Thomas. I love his game. I’ve always looked up to him.”

— Pregame ritual: “Just feeling comfortable, going around the (locker) room joking around. I see who I’m playing, look at the scouting report, what situations, where to force him. I eat the same thing over and over.”

— Games he plays: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. “Look me up (on Playstation on line), I’m chitowncrazy23. I’ll beat you.”

— On being more vocal: “I’m trying. Every day at practice I’m trying a little more, yelling at some people to let them know I’m holding them accountable and they should hold me accountable if I do something wrong. We treat eachother like men. We keep it real with eachother. It’s cool.”

— High School guard who gave him the most problems: “Sherron Collins. He’s at Kansas. Watch out for them. They’re going to be very good.”

— On John Calipari: “He’s like a father figure. We talk once every (few) weeks, call once a week just to talk and see what’s going on. He’s at a great organization, Kentucky. They’re going to do well and I hope they do well.”

— His idol: “It has to be LeBron James. He should be for everybody. He’s doing very well for himself, marketing himself right, playing well.”

— On children: “I don’t want no kids. I still can’t take care of myself. I’m not looking to get married.”

— On being called Pooh: “I was a fat, 10 pound, chubby baby. My grandmother watched a lot of TV and saw the character Winnie the Pooh. The name stuck with me.”

— On Luol Deng: “He’s been doing good. He’s been shooting the ball in practice extremely well, becoming a leader. He’s looking well this year. You’ll see when we play.”

— On playing in Chicago: “There’s no pressure. The only thing irritating is going to the mall, getting something to eat and people coming up to you. But I love it. You’ve got to get used to it. It comes with the territory.”

— Favorite city: “Los Angeles. I’ll probably stay there in the summer. I love L.A. I can’t lie.”

— NBA 2K or Live: “2K. There’s no discussion about that.”

— Favorite restaurants: “I go to a lot of places. Home Run Inn, Portillos.”

— The dunk contest: “I’ll never get in the dunk contest. I can jump high, but I’m not that creative.”

— Favorite color: Blue and gray.

— If he wasn’t an NBA player: “I love computers. But being in school and seeing all the stuff and how many hours they work. I couldn’t do that. I really never gave a thought. I knew one day I’d be playing in the NBA. Probably in high school I knew I had a chance and stuck with it.”

— Halloween costume: “I feel so bad. We’ll be in boring Miami.”

— Pacquiao or Cotto: “Pacquiao.”

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