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."

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

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USA TODAY

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.