Bulls

Sam: Adidas taking Rose's brand global

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Sam: Adidas taking Rose's brand global

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
4:54 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSN Chicago.com

It's no surprise that Derrick Rose's combination of on-court success and aesthetically-pleasing game has resulted in the Bulls All-Star point guard. However, his low-key demeanor wouldn't seem to lend itself to the role of traditional corporate pitchman. Nevertheless, the Chicago native is literally everywhere these days and while his humble persona might not fit the stereotype of a star athlete, adidas--the sneaker brand that Rose endorses--fully embraces the third-year pro's unique charisma.

"For us, it started watching him at Simeon and then at Memphis. We knew he could play, but when it came down to the draft and after the draft, we sat down with him and our other draftees, as well--we had a very good draft class that year, with Derrick, with Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, Toronto Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless, the Lopez brothers centers Brook of the New Jersey Nets and Robin of the Phoenix Suns, respectively, Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon--we had a really good draft class. so we were just talking to them at dinner and asking them what their expectations were and we went around the table, and we got to Derrick," Lawrence Norman, Vice President for Global Basketball at adidas, told CSNChicago.com

"Derrick's answer was very unique, in a sense that he just wanted to make his mom happy and his city proud. that was all he said and he said it with such a serious look on his face that we knew that he was a different kind of player, a different kind of person. So we knew that from the beginning, but then, as he's really grown over the last couple of years and shined on such an international stage at the FIBA World Championships, he came back with even with more swagger and confidence, and you can see that with the way that he's playing, the way he's becoming more vocal on the court, the way that he's becoming more vocal, even in marketing with us."

"We're all happy that he's becoming an MVP candidate so fast, but it's been gradual steps," continued the Portland-based Norman, who oversees adidas' global basketball business and manages the partnership between the company and the NBA. "He was Rookie of the Year, he was an All-Star his second year and I think he has high expectations for himself, and he's living up to those expectations."

Rose to complete in All-Star Skills Challenge

Norman went on to expound on why he and adidas believe Rose, whose jersey was the league's fourth best-seller last season--and rising, if the "M-V-P" chants and sights of Rose jerseys at Bulls road games are any indication--is so marketable.

"I've thought about this a lot and I think that his story is real. He's homegrown, he's from Chicago, he's true to his roots, but on the court, he's very team-first. As good as he is, he's always putting the team before himself, which is important, and kids are resonating towards him because he's authentic, of course, but he's also fast," said Norman, alluding to adidas' "Fast Don't Lie" ad campaign, which centers around Rose. "The fastest player in the game, that means a lot to kids from Shanghai to Chicago. In Chicago, he's obviously a hero and he's becoming a bigger hero all over the country, but his style of play and his swagger and his confidence and his reckless abandon when he's going to the basket, that's credible in Shanghai, as well, because players can aspire to be a guard--a fast guard--and they love the way that he plays. So that's why he's becoming a bigger icon all over the world."

In addition to his popularity amongst fans, Rose's individual brand is also making headway, according to Norman.

"His business is already becoming very successful. The adi Zero Rose 1.0 Rose's first signature sneaker launched in October and sold very well. The adi Zero Rose 1.5 is launching on Monday. He's going to wear that in the second half of Sunday's All-Star Game and we have high expectations for that," Norman said of Rose, who frequently gives credit to adidas for their aggressive marketing of him, such as their successful push, along with the Bulls (featuring placards on every United Center seat and actual roses left for courtside fans at a January home game), to garner the votes that led to his eventual starting nod in Sunday's All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. "We see his business continuing to grow at a fast pace and we know his main accounts that he's been selling at--Foot Locker and Eastbay--both accounts do well and we know from their orders for next season, 2011-12, that these orders are going to go up substantially."

Beyond profit margins, however, Norman knows adidas is in an excellent position to have Rose--who, along with Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, is one of the brand's most visible endorsers--on its roster.

"On the court, the sky's the limit. He's already defining--I think, 10 years from now or 15 years from now, when people look back and say, 'What is a Chicago point guard? What is that style of play?'--he represents it the best," Norman, who played professional basketball in Israel, told CSN Chicago.com. "They're going to be mentioning his name probably before they mention Isiah Thomas or Tim Hardaway. He represents the city in the way that he plays, in such a gritty way, and he takes every practice and every game so seriously."

"It's so personal, the whole city is embracing him for that reason," he continued. "He's got tremendous upside, his team is very good, he's playing in one of the basketball capitals of the world in Chicago, so what's not to like?"

Not a thing.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.