Hello Hollywood, here comes Mr. Rose


Feb 19

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Derrick Rose is interested in these Carmelo Anthony rumors as well, though not quite like the average Bulls fan. Which is also another reason why Rose is perhaps a leading league MVP candidate and you are chanting his name.

It seems almost certain the high scoring Anthony will soon end up with the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets, and perhaps place still another obstacle in the way of a long Bulls playoff run with even more top talent defecting to the Eastern Conference.

A problem? Nah, bring ‘em on, says Rose.

“It would be crazy, but way more fun,” Rose told a surging ring of reporters as he and his All-Star teammates prepared for Sunday’s All-Star game in Los Angeles. “Every night you would be playing against a great player. The fans would love it, so many great players on different teams. The matchups would be great. It would be good for the NBA.”

Rose smiled as he seemed to savor the possibilities: One night LeBron and Wade, then Amar’e and Carmelo, then KG, Pierce and Allen, then… How great would that be? Rivalries. Great games every few days.

But, someone asked, what about those teams that wouldn’t have the stars? Wouldn’t it be a league imbalance?

“Yeah, it could be dangerous,” said Rose. “But if anything it should drive you to be a better team. Hey, it’s not my problem. Nobody cared when I was losing last year. It’s up to those teams to get better.”

That’s part of what makes a true star, a great player, one reason Rose has come so far so quickly to put the Bulls in position with Joakim Noah returning to the lineup after the All-Star break to be a team that has a chance to compete for the top of the conference and a championship.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Rose tried to explain patiently to reporters from around the world crowding around his table for almost 45 minutes of non stop inquiries.

He’s a star now, and perhaps it was no coincidence in the interview session for all the East All-Stars Rose was in the prime spot in the middle of the ballroom with Dwyane Wade to his right and LeBron James to his left.

Rose was trying to explain this to reporters who kept asking him about saying before the season he wanted to be the MVP—by the way, he says he’s far out of the conversation now—and seemingly putting so much pressure on himself.

“I make my goals very high,” said Rose. “So it makes me want to work. When I’m in the gym I think of all the great players and wonder how hard they are working and that makes you want to work harder. There’s no point playing this game if you don’t want to be the best. If I didn’t, I should just retire now.”

The reporter looked curiously.

“Like you should want to be the best reporter or there’s no point doing it,” Rose said, though I almost expected the puzzled reporter to say something about there being free meals in the press room.

NBA All-Star weekend is more a big trade show and county fair now with a huge convention center filled with interactive activities to fans and exhibitions basically put on for the league’s sponsors and benefactors.

So there’s always news as well. NBA commissioner David Stern will have his semiannual press conference Saturday and likely talk mostly about the labor talks and perhaps a lockout without a deal and some of the related issues like the building of star teams.

Anthony’s seemingly imminent departure from Denver is the latest, and Anthony drew the largest crowd at the press conferences. Though he basically reiterated his see no evil stance of not knowing what is going on and just waiting. It seems the Knicks, Nuggets and Nets are involved in a game of three-way bluff with the Nuggets preferring to deal with the Nets and Anthony preferring a trade to the Knicks. Yes, for the 40th time we’ve heard this. The trade deadline is Thursday, so it should finally be resolved. Anthony wants to sign the larger monetary extension he can get by not opting out of his contract and fearing perhaps a franchise tag in the new agreement that could bind him to the Nuggets.

That’s left the rest of the market dry awaiting some action with Anthony, including the Bulls probes for a shooting guard like Anthony Parker, O.J. Mayo or Rasual Butler. Though nothing seems to be close, especially with Keith Bogans playing well of late and the Bulls not inclined to trade any players.

And that all seems fine with Rose. Again, just a challenge, and that makes it more fun.

“Right now we’re comfortable (with who we have),” said Rose. “It’s not really up to me. It’s up to the front office and to see what they will do. I’ll let them handle it. Right now everything is going right for us. I’ll stay out of it.”

In fact, it’s going so well that Rose said this is not only the best time in his life in basketball but the best moment.

“I’m saying this whole season (is the highlight),” said Rose. “I’m back on a winning team where my first two years it was hard. This year I’m back winning and it feels like high school or college again. There’s no one (big) game or moment. Every time I step in the locker room (is great).”

It is the best of times.

A few years ago when Rose showed up at All-Star weekend for the rookie game, a few Chicago reporters sat with him and a trickle of national and international media peeked in briefly. But all that has changed as wave after wave of reporters came to ask questions.

He was asked to offer greeting to fans in France, China, Nigeria and Malawi, staring into a camera each time and thanking the fans of D-Rose.

When you become one of the big time guys you are asked all sorts of questions and Rose said he’d never be in the dunk contest, the Bulls are really scary given they are winning without Noah, coach Tom Thibodeau is the real hero of the season for making it all work and that Rose never actually has watched even one All-Star game. The first one he basically saw was the first one he played in last year in Dallas. He said his mother cried when she first heard those MVP chants in the United Center, though Rose said she cries a lot, and when I mentioned the history of great Chicago point guard like Isiah Thomas, Mo Cheeks and Tim Hardaway, Rose said his biggest comparisons were to Jamie Brandon, the one-time King High School phenom, and he really isn’t in the class of those guys yet.

But this All-Star game may be one worth watching, in part, because of Rose. The All-Star game was at its zenith when Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson revived it with their showmanship. With Rose running the break with Wade and James, it could happen again.

“I’ll probably pass it to D-Wade and he’ll throw a lob to LeBron,” said Rose. “That’s a game I don’t have to score at all having great talent like that on your team.”

Rose says the East will likely win because of those transition possibilities, and they could be pretty impressive.

No less so than Rose, who had some life lessons to share as well as the shy kid, still quiet, has become adept at growing more comfortable in public.

“If anything basketball has taught me I can do whatever I want in life if I go out and workd for it,” said Rose. “If I take everything seriously and do what I am supposed to do and stay positive I think anyone can do whatever they want.

“The big thing,” said Rose, “was staying on the right path. I came from the typical bad neighborhood where it’s very hard to stay on that right path. So you have to stay focused and take care of school and I had, of course, my family to shelter me and to make sure I didn’t get in trouble. I’m blessed to have that in my life.”

And so the work continues.

Rose said now one of his projects other than a proper conclusion to this season is to come up with what to work on next summer, whether a post up game or something new to advance his skills and abilities.

“You can always get better,” said Rose.

So it was getting time to leave and get on with some more NBA activities. Rose pondered where he is now and how it all has changed so quickly, his jersey among the best selling in the NBA, his popularity soaring like his dunks.

“At first I was able to walk around and do whatever I wanted to do without people noticing me,” said Rose. “Now I can’t do anything. I’ll be on an elevator and people would be tweeting I’m on the elevator. It’s crazy. But I try to stay on the right track and stay positive and don’t take these days for granted because there will be days when people don’t care who you are anymore. I am happy.”

Yes, just set the world on its ear. There’s more to being a star than the numbers, and Rose deserves to be called one. Sunday on the game’s big midseason stage. From Chicago…

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