Bulls

Despite world travels, Chicago always on Rose's mind

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Despite world travels, Chicago always on Rose's mind

All of the hoopla surrounding the day's festivities were certainly appreciated, but to Derrick Rose, Saturday's launch of his new signature sneaker was more about giving back to his hometown.

"It feels good, man. I'm blessed, very blessed for at least one of you all media to be here. For all of you to come and all these people to come and just follow everything that I've been posting up on Facebook, it's been a blessing to have this outcome," said Rose at the State Street Foot Locker in the Loop. "It's crazy, man. Just coming from here and people knowing you, words can't explain how I feel right now. How emotional this is, just knowing that I'm from here. I've been seeing people I went to school in grammar school, just showing support. It means a lot to me."

During this extended offseason--caused by the ongoing NBA lockout--Rose has spent more time than he planned in his offseason stomping grounds of Los Angeles, allowing him to focus on improving his game, despite no signs of a season on the horizon.

"It's been tough. That's part of the reason I moved out to L.A. You can still hide there, but here or other big cities, you can't hide there," said the reigning league MVP, who also made pointed comments about the work stoppage. "You know me, I try to stay out of the attention, stay out of the media, only for positive things."

But the 23-year-old has also delved into some international travel, taking a trip to the Far East and Spain for adidas.

"All of sudden, I was working out and I just get a call, 'Two days you're going to be in Spain.' I was preparing to go to China, so I'm thinking, 'I've got another week to stay in L.A. and work out,'" he recounted. Went from Spain to Shanghai, Shanghai to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Beijing, Beijing to Taiwan, then came back to L.A."

In Madrid, Rose filmed a bullfighter-themed commercial for his shoe, the adiZero Rose 2, that gets frequent airtime and has received rave reviews.

"The commercial, wow. It was very hard, knowing that being out there in the sun all day--actually, it took like three days, went to Spain, the experience was great--but I'm just happy that the feedback was great. Everybody loved it and hopefully adidas comes up with some new ideas, so that we'll be out there again, but somewhere else."

Rose also discussed his experiences in Asia.

"It was fun. If anything, I think I've matured as a person, especially just being able to talk to people. I think that helped me out a lot, just being over there, being by myself. Everybody was loving it, just interacting with the kids, the fans," said Rose, whose video featuring him playing with hand puppets went viral. "All of them were something to remember, but the one that really got to me was Taiwan. The fans were really into it, their energy was great. I just loved being over there."

One thing the Bulls point guard doesn't plan to do is participate in any lockout-inspired exhibition games that seem to pop up every week.

"You know I don't like all-star games like that. I don't like pickup games. I think that's where people look at your game," he explained. "I just don't like it, to tell you the truth."

Confirmed his older brother, Reggie Rose, himself a star at Chicago's Hubbard High School: "When he was younger, I never allowed him. So that's something that stuck with up and back then he wasn't making money, so now he's making money. So, the magnitude of him getting hurt, I think it would be a dumb move on his part."

When asked what made the Philippines exhibition different, he quipped, " Well, if you're getting 300,000, that's a great pickup game."

Reggie Rose added that his younger brother would be participating in a charity game with a special cause.

"We're flying back out to L.A. and then we're going to leave on the 23rd for Honolulu or Guam for 'Hoops for Troops,'" he revealed. "Everybody's playing these games for money; we want to play these games to give back to the troops because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't even be able to play these games.

The game will reportedly feature the likes of Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge, Sacramento scorer Tyreke Evans, Atlanta All-Star Al Horford and Charlotte point guard D.J. Augustin, all of whom share Rose's agency, Wasserman Media Group.

For now, however, Rose continues to hone his skills in L.A. and mentioned that he might bring a few new wrinkles to the court when the NBA resumes play.

"Right now, it's posting up. Working up my post game and just sharpening up things, like my shooting, dribbling and all that stuff. I'm just trying to get better as a player, get smarter. I definitely want my basketball I.Q. to get better, but it comes along with just playing the game."

The Englewood native also has an eye toward making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team--conceivably, the next time fans could see their favorite players in organized competition--after excelling on the gold-medal winning FIBA World Championships squad in 2010.

"It would definitely be big, but it's not up to me, it's up to Coach K and the coaching staff to see who they're going to pick for the team. I'd love to be picked for the team, I'd love to be part of the experience, but it's not up to me," Rose confessed.

A burgeoning leader, Rose also has remained in touch with his far-flung teammates throughout the lockout, although various scheduling conflicts have prevented the Bulls from organizing a player-based minicamp, as some other teams have done.

"Joakim Noah is out there in L.A. right now. I worked out with him for two days before I came out here. He's out there focusing, just working out," he said. "Booz Carlos Boozer is in Miami, Lu Luol Deng is back here, Keith's Bogans in Orlando and C.J. Watson is in Vegas right now. So, I talk to them here and there."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.