DETROIT — Derrick Rose remains focused on the right things.
His renaissance and return to relevance have connected with enough fans to push him to fourth in voting for Eastern Conference All-Star guards. But with the Pistons mired in a stretch of six losses in eight games, Rose claimed not to know that.
“I just want to win,” Rose said.
Rose wouldn’t confirm that he’ll participate in the Skills Competition at All-Star weekend in Chicago, which multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, has reported. There’s a month of basketball to play before then.
Rose spoke about his season, where he’s at mentally and physically, and more in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.
NBC Sports Chicago: Your minutes have been extended lately. How are you feeling?
Rose: My body is responding well. I feel healthy. And I’m just trying to play with grace out there. Trying to take shots that they’re giving me, be smart with my opportunities. It’s been a year since I’ve been at the point guard spot. I came back in the league at small forward with Thibs [then-Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau]. And then I went to shooting guard with Minnesota after that. This year, it’s the first year I’m back at point guard.
Q: What’s it been like?
Rose: It’s an adjustment having the ball in my hands, trying to create again. I just have to worry about my turnovers.
Q: Do you feel you’re reading screen-and-roll efficiently?
Rose: I’m trying. It’s all reaction. I’m trying to react to how teams play more. Teams have started trying to contain me.
Q: You’re averaging 17.8 points and 5.8 assists in just over 25 minutes per game. Do you feel you’re playing efficiently?
Rose: That’s 12 years [experience]. I played a certain way for the first five, six years. But I was improving every year. The game has changed now. You have to be able to knock down your open shots. The last couple years, I’ve made the adjustment. In New York, I was just being stubborn by not shooting. I’m trying to make all the right reads now.
Q: Do you feel you’re a smarter player now than earlier in your career when so much of your game was raw athleticism?
Rose: I hope so. You have to be. There’s no way I would’ve got to Year 12 if I didn’t improve or my IQ didn’t go up. There’s no way I’d still be playing now or teams would believe in me.
Q: Anyone who has been around you talks about how much it seems you’re in a good place, on and off the court. Are you?
Rose: I’m just comfortable. That’s all it is. When I first came into the league, I wasn’t used to all the media. I thought you just came in and played. Everybody thought I was just this drab type of character. I was like, ‘No, if you were in my shoes, you would be shy to the camera too and you wouldn’t know what to say either.’ My talent trumped everything. I was a boy then. I’ve learned who I am as a man and what I wanted out of my career and this life that I have now. I’m just more balanced. I have a family. And I know what I want out of life.
Q: You talk about comfort level here and you chose to come here in free agency. There may be trade interest in you before the Feb. 6 deadline. What do you want to happen?
Rose: I haven’t really thought about it. Me and [agent] B.J. [Armstrong] haven’t talked about it. When we have talked, it was more about All-Star and what appearances I have for adidas. It wasn’t anything else as far as like what teams are calling, this and that. We were pretty straightforward. We talk about how I play.
Q: Do you feel you’re deserving of 6th Man of the Year award?
Rose: If they give it to me, it’s cool. But my job is to show I can still hoop. I want to win a championship one day. The accolades I get are cool. But individual awards aren’t my goal. Winning is.
Q: But winning 6th Man of the Year after winning most valuable player would say something about your perseverance, your career, wouldn’t it?
Rose: Like I said, it’s about making that adjustment. It would show that I adapted to this style of play and the league now. A person I always looked up to is Kobe [Bryant]. I want to be mentioned with him. I’m trying to play as many years as possible for one. For him to play and adapt to every generation and style of play, it shows his greatness. When people think about me, I want them to think about my career and see that I could play different ways.
Q: All-Star weekend is coming to Chicago. What would mean for you to be in the real game?
Rose: It would be cool. But right now, we’re losing. That’s the only thing that’s been on my mind right now, trying to fix things here with the team. There has been a lot of long nights just trying to think and trying to put together a plan. I can only do so much. Just trying to control what I can control and be a leader for this team. Whatever this team needs, just try to be there. Being back in Chicago, I know people in Chicago are going to love it. It’s something we’ve been missing for a long time. The excitement, the buzz around it has been great. When is the last time they had it, with Mike [Jordan]?
Rose: The year I was born. Yeah, the city needs that right now.
Q: Do you remember Jordan winning the dunk contest from the foul line?
Rose: Yeah, I was just born then.
Q: When you see yourself fourth in the voting after all you’ve been through, what does that mean to you?
Rose: I didn’t see it. But I keep hearing about it. Like I said, it’s kind of hard really thinking about it when we’re losing games, bro. But all the people that’s out there voting, I appreciate all the support — not only me but my family. We all appreciate it. It shows how loyal my fans are and people are praising me for my play.
Q: You won the Skills Competition your rookie year in 2009 in Phoenix. Are you up for that competition again?
Rose: I mean, if I’m in it, I’m going to try to win it. That’s all it is. And, for me to be actually participating back in Chicago, it just gives the city something to cheer about. I’m from there. So it’s a lot of love.
Q: Do you remember how you finished the Skills Competition in ’09?
Rose: Oh yeah, yeah, with the dunk. I think it’s different now. I don’t even know the format. I just threw my name in there. I don’t know the format. But who cares? I’ll figure it out.
Q: When you come back to Chicago now, you get 'MVP!' chants. What’s your reaction to that?
Rose: It just shows where the love is at. I get that not only there but a lot of other places too. All my supporters and people who have looked at my career over these last couple years, they see that I’m balling. They still love the way I play somehow, some way.
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