Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
By Aggrey Sam
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.