Bulls

'Like a movie': Big shot enhances Rose's star status

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'Like a movie': Big shot enhances Rose's star status

MILWAUKEE - Consider it another step in his development, if you want to think about it in the present. But as far as the big-picture stuff goes, Wednesday night will be remembered and shown on the highlight reels years from now, when were remembering his already-remarkable career.

Huge, said Derrick Rose, following his first career buzzer-beating shot to win a game with no time on the clock. Thats something that I look at, man.

I know that Im young, like I always say, but I think about that stuff, he continued. When Im done with this game, I want to be a great.

Rose was talking about his legacy. A little presumptuous? Not in the least and observing him on a regular basis, he makes statements like that without a hint of arrogance and not even any false modesty attached to it.

Like everything else, just matter-of-fact. For example, witness a description of the final play following the Bucks tying the game at 104 apiece with 18.1 seconds left and a Bulls timeout, Rose received the inbounds pass, whittled the clock down and went hard right with Brandon Jennings shadowing him before stepping back to his left and knocking down a deep two with no time remainingfrom his perspective.

Roses thought process was to take the last shot. I knew they were going to be playing me pretty tough. Brandon was pressuring me pretty good and I had the opportunity to get space, and make a nice shot, Rose explained. I shot it with a lot of arc, so I just gave it a chance and tonight, it went in.

I usually drive left. I saw him Bucks swingman Carlos Delfino, the primary help defender on the play at the nail and I couldnt go that way, so thats why I stepped back, he continued. If anything, I was going to shoot the floater again, but he was sagging off when I started going to my move and thats what made me shoot it.

It gives me a lot of confidence, man. I remember a few years back, I was missing those shots. I think its a thing where you just learned from it, knowing what they give you. My last couple end-of-game shots have been floaters. Seemed like he was backing up a little bit and I just pulled up, Rose went on to say. I needed it confidence. Ive shot worse than this before, so thats what I think about when Im out there. My teammates give me a lot of confidence, just telling me to take the last shot and I wanted to go around five or four seconds, so that there was no time left on the clock.

Even his coach, by-the-book Tom Thibodeau, had to chuckle when asked about Rose after the game.

What can you say? Another big shot, played hard all game, big play after big play, said the NBA lifer. It was a great play by him. He took the clock down, he didnt leave any time because you felt like, whoever had the ball, they were going to score next.

Thats the responsibility of your primary scorer, so if youre single-covered and youve got a good look at it, take the shot. If the double team comes, hit the open man. Play the right way. Trust your teammates, trust the pass. If youre one-on-one and you can go, you go. Hes great with that, he added. I thought the play was defended well. He made a tough shot. Sometimes that happens. After the fact, its easy to say, Well, you could have done this, could have done that. Theyre tough defensively.

Hes got a lot of confidence and I thought he was attacking. He got to the line 14 times and I thought he could have been there even more, but thats the way it goes sometimes. He never stops attacking.

Luol Deng also took the play in stride, having witnessed Rose perform countless amazing feats in their four years together.

This was big. D is capable of hitting big shots. Hes proven that. Everyone knows at the end of the game, thats where were going and he just stepped up with confidence and knocked it down, he said. Im really surprised Derrick didnt get to the free-throw line somehow, kind of force it. I was surprised they didnt double as the clock went downI thought he took a little while, but I guess he knew exactly what he wanted, got to the spot and nailed it.

Added Carlos Boozer: Get the ball to Derrick Rose and everybody else get out of the way. It worked, like it always does.

Leave it to the most excitable player on the team, Joakim Noah, to break the monotony of business-as-usual reactions inside a fairly jubilant Bradley Center visitors locker room.

That shot was like a movie. It was like a movie. Hit the shot, no time left on the clock, we saw the horn, the ball just goes in the net. That must be an unbelievable feeling to be able to hit a shot like that and Im happy hes on our team, said the charismatic center. Its like a movie, I swear. Its special and everybody knows that he wants the ball down the stretch. He doesnt want the screen. He just wanted the ball in that situation and I know his confidence is sky-high right now.

Rose himself insisted he was happier about going 14-for-14 from the charity stripe especially given his foul-shooting woes in the Bulls narrow loss to the Heat at Miami in the two juggernauts only meeting thus far this season but while he, like Thibodeau, wasnt crazy about every aspect of the Bulls performance against the inferior Bucks, he acknowledged how special the moment was.

I remember in Miami almost the same situation we were down one and missing both free throws and just coming up here, that was going to be on my mind and knocked them down, and I think I was more happy I hit those free throws than that last shot, he said. Its great, man. Its a great feeling. If anything, were just happy that we got the win and trying to keep this thing going. Were playing pretty good, got to polish some things up still on the defensive end and play together.

But as always, even in the course of genuflecting about the shot in a locker room where even Thibodeau let down his guard with the media around, Rose credited his teammates for putting him in the position to once again rise to the occasion and be the hero.

Love it. As a kid, those are the things that you dream about it and it felt good, man. Youre on the road, playing against a team thats giving you their all and you hit a nice shot like that, he said. It ranks pretty high, man. Its up there. Hopefully I get some more in my career, like in the playoffs or something like that, but Im just blessed that Im on this team and they gave me the ball at the end, and it shows how much respect they have for me and how much confidence they have in me.

Just as Bulls fans are blessed to have lightning strike twice no need to mention when it first struckand witness special moments from a special player and special person.

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

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USA TODAY

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler was absent from the scoresheet of the All-Star Game, unless you count a “DNP-Coaches’ Decision” as activity. Whether due to the All-Star festivities of the weekend or even the grinding minutes he plays under Tom Thibodeau, it wasn’t truly surprising to see him want to have a night off of sorts.

But what was mildly surprising was the reflection he displayed on Saturday at All-Star Media Day in reference to his time with the Chicago Bulls. Usually, Butler’s armor is up because of his feelings surrounding his draft-night departure.

“I learned a lot in Chicago,” Butler said. “Just all through the season and life in general. What to do, what not to do and how to adapt to any situation that you’ve been in. I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. I have a ways to go in that.”

It’s clear he’s still grasping the weight of his words as the best player on a team, or at least, the player whose words impact everything around him.

“A people pleaser? No, I just didn’t say much,” Butler said. “Now I just don’t care. I never talked whenever I was in the league at an early age. It really didn’t matter, nothing I did was gonna make or break us when it comes to losing a game. Now it does and I have a lot to say. Half the time it’s not the right time or right way to say it but it’s okay.”

Whether it was the battles with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg or the internal struggles in the Bulls’ locker room through his ascension from bench warmer to rotation player to impact player to now, a legitimate star, he’s modifying his approach—just a tad.

“I’ve never been the best player on my own team. I was in Tomball,” he joked, in reference to his beginnings in small town Texas. “I wasn’t in junior college. At Marquette I wasn’t. I’m probably not now. In Chicago I wasn’t. You just pick up on it, watch others and learn.”

He admitted to writing in a journal and reading self-help books now that he’s in Minnesota. The novel he’s reading now, “Faith, Forward, Future” is authored by Chad Veach, a Los Angeles pastor and the subtitle of the book says “Moving past your disappointments, delays and destructive thinking.”

Whether he started the book following a slow start with the Timberwolves in November, where his nightly numbers looked like one of a high-level role player, he took some self-evaluation before leading the charge since, playing like an MVP candidate with 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 49 percent shooting since the start of December.

“It’s relatively new. Yeah, basketball is still basketball but it’s hard when somebody else is coming in and roles change overnight,” Butler said. “You gotta see where you fit in with the group. At the end of the day you gotta win. I didn’t feel the way I was playing was our best opportunity to win games.”

Bringing along the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns being a fellow All-Star for the first time, has been a process.

“I’ve never actually had to be a leader,” Butler said. “I just always done what I was supposed to do, didn’t say much and played hard. Now you know, everybody wants to call someone a leader.”

He disputes taking a softer hand, especially as Towns and Wiggins seem to struggle with sustaining concentration at critical moments. The Timberwolves won’t be able to make those mistakes during the playoffs, but he’s being more selective with his words.

“I’m not soft,” he said. “If I see something wrong, I speak on it. If you don’t like it, oh well. You’ll get over it.”

One thing he could take a bird’s eye view of was the aftermath of LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s comments to the “Uninterrupted”, where they were criticized by cable news hosts for speaking out against President Donald Trump.

No stranger to criticism, Butler would likely have the same approach if he dipped his toes into that arena.

“I like it. You got the right to say what you want and you speak on what you think is right,” Butler said. “Good for them. And they are magnified in a very big way. They embrace it and they’re doing the right thing, I’m all for it.”

And if the day comes where he doesn’t stick to sports, Butler’s directness and lack of diplomacy would certainly cause an interesting reaction.

“I don’t care. Whatever I believe in, I believe in,” Butler said. “Everybody else does it. You see everybody on Twitter and the Internet doing it and saying what they want to say. We just have a different job than the person to our left and right.”

Well, not quite a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Butler.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”