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."