Rose in All-Star game, but out of Skills Challenge


Feb 13

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Derrick Rose has skills, which he intends to display Sunday in the NBA All-Star game in Dallas.

“I’m 100 percent for Sunday,” Rose said Saturday morning after practicing with the East All-Stars. “No matter what. I’m going to play in that game.”

But Rose will not have his skills challenged Saturday night in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge competition. Rose, after meeting with renowned Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole in Dallas and getting treatment, was advised not to defend his competition title from last season because of his sore hip. The NBA announced Saturday afternoon Rose will be replaced in the competition by Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook.

“Every day “I’m getting better,” said Rose. “I know in a couple of days I’ll be fine, so I’m not worried about it.”

That’s good news for the Bulls after the scary fall Rose took Wednesday against Orlando, and the priority is to play in the All-Star game. After all, no one ever says. “The Bulls haven’t had a Skills Challenge winner since…”

Rose said East coach Stan Van Gundy told him he’d probably use Rose Sunday for sustained stretches–maybe nine minutes–in each half so Rose doesn’t have to play, sit and then play again and perhaps get sore while sitting.

“I can’t complain about that,” said Rose. “As long as I step on the court.”

There is one thing I regret about Rose having the injury and not being at full strength Sunday. He could have begun to bring back the greatness of the All-Star games of the 80s and 90s, and perhaps someday he will.

Many forget, but the All-Star game was once a fairly prosaic exercise. Guys played the game rather seriously, more like a regular game because the winner’s share meant something.

But it all changed in the 80s with the coming of both big money, which made the payout less significant, but also the flamboyant stars. Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas were perhaps the two main players credited with injecting the theatrical style into the game with innovative passing and fanciful play, and the All-Star game became a can-you-top-this of imagination and basketball decoration.

Ooops became the alley oop. Backing down became behind the back and tennis gave up being known for lobs. There are plenty of power dunkers now. But to really create a basketball masterpiece you need the floor artists and creators and you can see Rose being one of those players. But perhaps not this time.

“At first you want to be flashy to get the kids into the game,” Rose said. “That’s the way I play, anyway. It’s got to be exciting out there. That’s what makes an All-Star game good.”

How much Rose can do is a question.

But in a way, it was a delight to see Rose with the All-Stars Saturday morning, and you smile like a proud parent around him.

The occasion as an open practice to the public at the Jam Session, the NBA’s annual All-Star fun fair of interactive activities. So it’s obviously not a serious practice but more of a walk through. Coach Stan Van Gundy was on a live microphone for it and called some basic screens and movement and the players pretty much walked through to their spots.

“I did what everybody did, but at a slow pace,” said Rose.

I didn’t see any fast pace from anyone.

The All-Stars were in blue-and-white practice jerseys and shorts with Rose wearing a long sleeved t-shirt underneath. He seemed OK walking through, so I asked him if he could bend down and touch his toes. Rose said he can’t do that even when he’s healthy.

“I’m not flexible at all,” Rose said.

The practice was pretty much a show for the fans, and pretty soon it turned into a shooting contest with the East All-Stars all taking turns trying to make half court shots with someone from the Guinness Book of Records there as the alleged world record was five in a minute.

The players all began taking half court shots and none could hit.

While they were doing that from halfcourt, Rose was at the other basket practicing his jumper.

“I haven’t shot in a couple of days,” noted Rose. “So you saw while they were shooting, I was at the other basket.”

Can you believe this kid? All the guys are laughing it up trying the threes with a little bet going and Rose is at the elbow practicing jumpers.

Anyway, they all miss and then Rose gets a shot and hits his first try.

I am not making this up.

The players had $500 up for who made one, but then Chris Bosh made one and the bet washed out as there was a payment if only one made it. There then was talk about $500 a shot, though Rose backed out.

“I told them I can’t,” said Rose. “I told them I didn’t get my contract yet.”

It didn’t appear anyone got paid.

The session then became a contest of half court shots with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James chosen to try for the supposed world record of five within a minute. James made three with 23 shots and Wade hit his final one only on his 24th attempt. Though what was most interesting was seeing Wade heaving them up in all ways, sometimes throwing them like a football. James shot what seemed like easy, regular jump shots. Yes, from half court. Then Dwight Howard tried from a sitting position and hit one on his eighth attempt, which was deemed a world record from that distance.

Yes, the NBA is running out of ideas.

“I haven’t taken a nap yet,” said Rose of his non stop weekend. “Sleeping time is horrible here. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.”

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