PHILADELPHIA Back when they were high school seniors in Chicago, Derrick Rose and Evan Turner were rivals at basketball programs steeped with tradition. In the five years since Rose starred at Simeon Career Academy on the South Side and Turner led St. Josephs High School in suburban Westchester, Rose has had the higher profile.
But while the second-year swingman cant quite match the reigning league MVPs resume, he has his own impressive set of credentials national college player of the year at Ohio State, No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and now plays an important role off the bench for 76ers, the top team in the Atlantic Division.
Turner was complimentary about his former prep rival when asked about him Sunday morning, following the Sixers shootaround.
The Bulls were good when they got Derrick, but once Derrick started playing they were even better, said the West Side native. Hes developed a long-range shot. Hes developed furthermore into a leader and hes always been a leader, but hes become an even bigger leader, putting his team at the top of the NBA. Hes always been a winner.
If Sundays game has the same outcome as the last time the Bulls visited Philadelphia a 16-point Sixers win dont expect Turner to be too boastful, even if he has bragging rights over Rose back in the Windy City.
I dont really speak to anybody from Chicago like that anymore to even brag, but its just another game, he said diplomatically. Youre thankful for it and grateful for the wins, so youve got to take advantage of every at-home opportunity because you know on the road, its not as easy.
Turner also spoke highly of the Bulls as a whole, particularly the wing players hell be matching up with Sunday evening.
Its always tough when you have to worry about more than one option and I think with Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton, Kyle Korver and Noah and Boozer, just having to pay attention to them, that helps D-Rose even more do the things that he loves to do, makes him successful, he said. Those are experienced wings. Rip and Luol Rips played in big games, Luol has, as well Kyle Korver has and Brewer, hes a capable guy. He knows how to play the game and everything, so thats rough, especially when they know the game and theyre smart players.
When asked about Philadelphias success this season, Turner made it sound simple.
We really focus on our defense and take pride in our defense, and it might not work the first five or 10 minutes, but we just keep trying to wear you down and make sure it goes in our advantage, he explained. Everythings very easy when youre winning.