With headphones adorned, medicine ball in hand and rolling suitcase in tow, Derrick Rose began his slow walk out of the United Center after a hard-fought Bulls victory.
But on the night in question, Nov. 1, 2019, he entered and exited the arena a visitor. Though Rose scored a cool 23 points and dished seven assists in the contest, his Detroit Pistons fell 112-106.
Still, warm faces abound every time Rose returns to the city. He’s received “MVP!” chants in the arena he once called home on multiple occasions since his Bulls tenure ended. And while Rose isn’t one to let such displays of effusive support evoke emotion, one old friend in attendance that night got a smile from the former Bulls star.
That old friend was Joakim Noah, who flagged Rose down as he made his way towards the UC exit. If only for a moment, the two were reunited:
Joakim and D-Rose... FAMILY ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5dd8XBT4wc— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 2, 2019
For six seasons and change, Rose and Noah captivated the hearts of the city. They were fire and ice — Rose the cool assassin from which bursts of explosion seemed to erupt out of thin air; Noah the boisterous boon, and an electric undercurrent that spurred the hustle and heart of everyone around him.
Together, they led the Bulls to two No. 1 overall seeds, an Eastern Conference finals berth and many fond memories. Never the bride, but a perennial contender. In 2010-11, Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history; in 2013-14, Noah won Defensive Player of the Year and finished fourth in MVP voting.
And their bond extended off the court, as well. It’s why we recently ranked Noah the best teammate Rose ever played with. It also led Rose to say, unequivocally, in his 2019 book “I’ll Show You” that Noah was the closest teammate he’s ever had, and that he wants his son P.J. to grow up just like Jo.
Below, read an excerpt from “I’ll Show You,” in which Rose’s love and appreciation for Noah the basketball player and man is evident:
The closest teammate I’ve had—other than Randall in high school—was Joakim Noah, and that’s where Arthur Ashe comes in again. A lot of people don’t mess with Joakim because they think there’s some bad shit that comes with him or just how outspoken he is or whatever. For me, I can respect that, knowing everything about him, like for him to be who he is and act the way he is. It’s an amazing story behind it. I actually want my son PJ to grow up to be like Joakim. You know, a free spirit, a loving guy. Joakim loves people. He’s just a great role model. And his story is special.
His pops was discovered by Arthur Ashe when he was just a kid—took him from their family and put him in school, a tennis school. So I’m asking Jo one day, “Your pops really knew Arthur Ashe?” I had played tennis and was pretty good and Arthur Ashe was such a hero if you were African American and played tennis, so off that, you got me. Joakim’s pop got put in school—they told his family he’d be taken care of and the family agreed to it. This is a stranger taking your kid, just historic.
And think of Jo. To be this silver-spoon kid, his dad is a big star, rich and famous, and he don’t want nothing to do with that. Like, “Nah, I’m doing my own thing.” Gets multiple contracts by himself when he easily could have lived off of his pops forever. His pops could’ve got him jobs. But he didn’t want that. He’s got his own individuality. That’s what I love about Jo, how he created something on his own. I want that for my son, too. I ask Jo questions so I can hear how he acted when he was young to get that way. Just so I can figure it out as a father with PJ when he’s doing shit he isn’t supposed to be doing. Jo tells the truth about what he experienced. He probably don’t even know how deep I think about it, but I love how open he is, how he trusts me with certain things.
Arthur Ashe was in a sport where they didn’t even want him in there. That’s the kind of inspiration that drives me. First off, to even play that sport, you gotta have money. So how are you that good to even know this? You know what I mean? He was great. And even more than that, he cared about people. He was on his way, doing his own thing, trying to change the world, and those are the things I respect about him. Then he gets HIV and all he cares about is helping others to learn all about the disease, marching for civil rights, his work with South Africa and apartheid—what a great, great man.
I used to talk to Jo all the time about his dad at Wimbledon and Ashe and that led to us having conversations about Africa, the world, civil rights—we hardly ever talked about basketball. We talked about immigrants a lot—his mom is from Sweden. Talked about the health care problems here. I felt like everything Arthur Ashe was doing was perfect. He was helping people. Dope in tennis. Dies at like 50, going in for an operation and he comes out dying of AIDS. Why him?
Those are the people you hear about and you know you can’t give up.
This excerpt of “I’ll Show You,” by Derrick Rose and Sam Smith, is presented with permission from Triumph Books. For more information or to order a copy please visit Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Triumph Books.
NBC Sports Chicago will honor the Bulls great with “Derrick Rose Week presented by Saint Xavier University” starting up Monday, June 8 at 7:00 PM CT with the first of five-straight nights of “Classic” game performances. See full schedule here.