Evan Turner on Derrick Rose: Righting the 'rivalry' many want to create

Evan Turner on Derrick Rose: Righting the 'rivalry' many want to create

NEW YORK – Sometimes, stories take on a life of their own. Just ask Evan Turner about his supposed rivalry with Derrick Rose.

“Blown out of proportion,’’ Turner says.

It stems from 2007, when Turner and Rose were 18 and standout prep basketball players in Chicago. They played two high-profile games – one in front of 7,689 fans at Northwestern University -- during which things were said during and after the game.

Since then, both players have been in the NBA, and some are quick to bring up their comments from the spring of 2007 as evidence that the two don’t like each other.

“I’ve never known him personally. If I heard him on the phone, I wouldn’t know it was him,’’ Turner said. “We don’t speak, we don’t know each other, but it’s not like I’ve ever had any ill will toward him.’’

On Tuesday in New York, the two will meet again – Turner with the Portland Trail Blazers and Rose with the New York Knicks – and Turner chuckles at the story that just won’t die.

“Back then, we were 18 year old kids making statements,’’ Turner said. “I don’t think much of it. People are putting bigger hype into it.’’

So what was the “it” that so many won’t let die? The “it” that keeps coming up every time something happens when their NBA paths cross?

It started from a quote from Turner, in front of a row of press members covering Rose’s No. 1-ranked Simeon Wolverines against Turner’s No. 2-ranked St. Joseph’s Chargers on Feb. 17, 2007:

“Derrick Rose ain’t sh#$@.”

After the game, Turner kept talking.

Rose led his favored Wolverines to a 74-66 win, finishing with 29 points, seven assists and four steals. Turner had 29 points and 11 rebounds and during one stretch scored 20 consecutive points.

“I was better than him,’’ Turner told the Chicago Sun-Times. “With me guarding him, he didn’t do much. He knows that, and I know that.’’

Rose was told of the quotes after the game and responded: “We both know who is better. He’s just doing this to get a little bit of publicity. We’ll see who does more on the next level.’’

**

From then on, Turner and Rose and their “rivalry” has been a story.

Two of the more notable attempts to retrace the story:

Before the 2012 playoffs, when Turner was with the Philadelphia 76ers, he said his team would probably rather face Chicago than Miami.

“It means we are dodging the tougher team,’’ Turner was quoted by one newspaper.

That set off a wildfire of stories, which included the Bulls responding to Turner’s quote and theories that Turner’s motivation came from his supposed beef with Rose.

“They really tried to rekindle that little flame there,’’ Turner said.

Last season, when he was with the Boston Celtics and Rose with the Bulls, Turner stripped Rose and went in for an uncontested dunk. But it wasn’t just any dunk, it was a 360-degree dunk.

Some took Turner’s decision to unveil a flashy dunk as a salvo aimed at Rose and their high-school history.

“Oh, was that a big deal?’’ Turner said, unaware of the stories that followed his Boston dunk. “I was doing it for the sake of taking advantage of an opportunity. It was fun. Big game. On TV … ‘’

In between those two stories, Turner says he has heard about this growing legend of how the two go at each other. How Turner gets up on Rose on defense. How he bangs Rose while posting him up. And how hard he played against Rose in Chicago.

“I’m all up in him, because if you don’t … ‘’ Turner says, unable to finish because he’s laughing so hard at the thought of not playing pressure defense on a player of Rose’s caliber. “And when I come home to Chicago, I want to play well, so yeah. And I hear people say we were ‘going back and forth’ when I was posting him … I post any (smaller) guy.’’

He shakes his head. He’s curious to hear what other stories have been spawned out of something said so long ago.

“I mean, I’m not stupid, I get it,’’ Turner said. “I comprehend certain things that were said and certain things that occurred. But we were 18 then. We are 28 now.’’

**

Truth is, Turner says he holds Rose in the highest regard, and always has.

“I always knew the kid to be great, unreal,’’ he said. “I heard about him in the 8th grade. He was a big deal. I remember the first time I saw him – sophomore year in the Super Sophomore Showcase. He was obviously the best kid in the state, and I was an unknown sophomore. I left that camp a Top 10 player, but Derrick was unreal.’’

They are from the same city, but they might as well be a world apart. Rose went to school at Simeon Career Academy in the Chatham neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Turner went to Saint Joseph’s on the west side of Chicago.

Turner said it would probably take him 90 minutes to two hours to get to the south side, not that he ever desired.

 “There are a lot of outliers that play a difference in the situation in why you don’t go to the south side,’’ Turner said.

By the time they were seniors, Rose was more than just a big recruit.

“He was a Chicago legend,’’ Turner said.

So when he made the quotes about Rose after their first meeting, to many it was blasphemy.

“They asked me questions about him, and I answered what I felt honestly,’’ Turner said. “And me, as a young kid not knowing regardless of how I felt or what I said, it was going to be taken a certain sort of way because the guy you were kind of going at was the God Son of Chicago.’’

Turner says first meeting between St. Joseph’s and Simeon in front of nearly 7,700 fans is still talked about today. In Boston, Turner said a Patriots player told him he was at that game. And Turner remembers Charlotte forward Frank Kaminsky telling him how Spencer Hawes would always talk about the stories from that game.

 “A lot of people still remember it. It was as crazy game,’’ Turner said. “Lot of trash talk.’’

Talk that today has turned into admiration.

“I’ve always been a fan of his, admired what he has done for the city and him standing up and always holding it down from age 13 and then going on and winning MVP in Chicago,’’ Turner said. “That’s huge for Chicago basketball. Huge for the basketball scene there. Because a lot of people there will tell you memories of watching him in this moment, or that moment. That’s the kind of impact he had.’’

Turner said when Rose suffered his knee injuries, he felt it as deeply as anybody.

“Because he was a 22-year-old MVP with so much more to do,’’ Turner said. “As super happy as I was for his success, I was super sad for his injuries, because he was just unreal. He did so many things for Chicago.’’

Now, Rose is with the Knicks. And Turner with the Blazers. And tonight, they will likely find themselves guarding each other in Madison Square Garden. And for Turner, at least, it won’t be with ulterior motives.

“It was a fun story in high school – all competition, all loving – and when you add tons of people outside of it trying to build a rivalry … it’s just never been a rivalry. I've always been a fan for him, just being from Chicago. He’s a high-class player, and I’ve always thought that.''

Get ready for 'The Double Beast’ when Jusuf Nurkic returns

Get ready for 'The Double Beast’ when Jusuf Nurkic returns

Rip City has missed having ‘Nurk Fever’ more than ever this season. 

As Jusuf Nurkic continues to rehab his left leg, this week, fans have been treated to videos of Nurk working out.

Saturday, Nurkic spoke with the media for the first time this season since Blazers Media Day at the end of September.

“I’m right where I want to be... Pain-free,” Nurkic told reporters.

The Blazers 7-footer says he feels that he is about “60 percent.”

After talking with the media in Phoenix following Saturday's practice, it was clear that Nurk is not just focused on getting healthy, but also coming back better than ever.

I’m not expecting myself to just do the rehab; I want to get better, so I want to get better as a player, better as a person. I see a lot of things differently from the court, from the bench, and in the locker room… I’ve been there, like a totally different person to see the different perspective and I feel like I can help even more.  -- Trail Blazer center Jusuf Nurkic

Nurk and the Blazers have not established a timeline for his return. Previous reports of a return around the All-Star Break were not confirmed by the Trail Blazers big.

It’s all about being smart at this point.   

“Trying to listen to my team and doctors, and everybody around me to do the right way… I just need to be smart with my decisions,” Nurkic said.  

As the Bosnian Beast gave updates to reporters, he stopped himself to make sure he took time to thank all the Trail Blazers fans who have been supporting him during his recovery.

“Thanks everybody who did the support of my injury. I mean, with the Billboard and stuff, it mean a lot to me. Knowing the people want to see my practice and stuff."

Nurkic added, “I want to be healthy when I’m done playing basketball.”

But the 25-year-old said he still has a lot of “check marks” to get to before he can get back on the court.

“It’s important for me to be really smart with what I’m doing,” Nurkic said.

For the big fella it’s all about perspective right now:  

Mentally is going to be okay. I’ve been through a lot, like all the people in the world going through some hard times, but I feel like it’s nothing compared to the people on the street, compared to the people who don’t have no money to live.  

As Nurk takes it “day-by-day,” the Blazers are looking at a 10-16 record, and even if he is making sure not to rush his rehab, that doesn’t mean he isn’t extremely eager to get back out there.

I feel hungry… When I’m with the team I feel even more hungry. I lost some weight and I feel great, more explosive, more quick. I just feel like when the day comes, I’m going to be the double beast.

Nurkic has lost about 10 pounds as he works to be 'The Double Beast.' Envisioning a quicker more agile Bosnian Beast will make fans even more eager to see his return. 

Nurkic recognizes that fans are not happy with the Blazers' start of this season. He wants everyone to know that he has to do what is best for everybody involved. 

“I understand people are disappointed, but injuries suck, man, and they’re part of the job, part of the life, and I think for me I need to do whatever is best for me and for the team.”

Here's your ultimate Jusuf Nurkic workout highlight

Here's your ultimate Jusuf Nurkic workout highlight

Jusuf Nurkic continued to show how his rehabilitation is going Saturday in Phoenix. 

Nurkic going through drills is yet another evolution in his rehabilitation, this coming days after he was seen running stairs at Pepsi Center after Trail Blazers shootaround. 

It's a welcomed sight, to say the least. 

While there are reports that Nurkic is angling to return around the All-Star break, the Bosnian Beast isn't putting a timetable on it. 

"I need to do what's best for me," he said. Nurkic mentioned that not only is he going to come back healthier, but also a better player as a whole.  

Check out the highlight video above to see how Nurkic's workout went!

Nurkic, covered in sweat after a workout, talks about his progress

Nurkic, covered in sweat after a workout, talks about his progress

PHOENIX – Apparently, this has been going on for a while now.

Jusuf Nurkic was on the floor of the practice gym in Talking Stick Resort Arena Saturday afternoon, spinning, jab-stepping, jumping, dribbling, shooting and looking for all the world like a man healthy enough to play NBA basketball.

Which, of course, he isn’t. Nurkic, after a workout that left him drenched in sweat, pronounced himself “right where I want to be” and “pain-free.”

Pressed, he put his readiness at “60 percent.” Nurkic has been sidelined since last March 25 ,after suffering compound fractures in his left tibia and fibula that required surgery.

It was originally estimated he could be out of action for a year and then the talk was that he could be ready to return to a Trail Blazer uniform by the All-Star break in February. But he raised the hopes of Portland fans when he was shown on video shooting free throws prior to Tuesday’s game in Moda vs. the Knicks and then shown again on video running the stairs in Denver’s Pepsi Center before Thursday’s game with the Nuggets.

The team made him available for interviews after the Blazers’ practice Saturday afternoon and seemingly showcased his workout for the media – because we see only what they want us to see of their practices.

The franchise has refused to put a timetable on his return to active duty and Nurkic dodged all those questions, as did his coach. But it was made clear that he has been doing more work on the court than previously thought.

“He’s been doing a lot of stuff,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “This is the first time you’ve gotten to see it. He’s been doing things similar to this. Today wasn’t anything new from our standpoint. You just haven’t seen it.

“I think we’re all encouraged by the progress he’s made.”

And the 7-foot center made it a point that every day is not like the heavy workout we saw Saturday.

“If I was doing this every day, I probably would have played already,” he said.

But during an interview that stretched longer than what the team may have expected, Nurkic refused to dig deeply into what he’s been doing and what his schedule will be, moving forward.

“I can’t tell you everything,” he said with a smile.

 

Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

 

     

 

Nassir Little suffers back spasms during warm-ups in Denver

Nassir Little suffers back spasms during warm-ups in Denver

DENVER – It wasn’t until the third quarter when Trail Blazers PR announced that rookie forward Nassir Little would not play in Thursday’s game versus the Nuggets due to back spasms.

Through the first three quarters, it looked as though Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was electing to give Mario Hezonja the minutes Little had been taking up.

But, after the Blazers’ 114-99 loss to the Nuggets, Little explained how the injury came about and how ultimately he ended up not playing:

It’s been tight. Just warming up, I just jumped and it was just off. -- Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little 

Little has been dealing with a tight back for the past week, but Thursday during warm-ups was the last straw.

“I told the trainers during the game—no way,” Little said of being able to play against Denver.

Little was grimacing as he leaned down to put on his socks and shoes in the locker room postgame.

In 18 games played this season, he is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.

The Trail Blazers forward said his pain level was “at a nine” when his back flared up initially as he went up for a lay-in. “It was immediate.”

Little sounded optimistic though saying he hopes not to miss too much time. The 19-year-old will begin treatment Friday morning and NBCSNW will follow-up with the Trail Blazers rookie throughout the weekend to see what his status will ultimately be for Monday night's game vs. the Phoenix Suns.