All-Star Roundup: Chicago backcourt raring to go

All-Star Roundup: Chicago backcourt raring to go
February 19, 2011, 11:43 pm
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Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011Posted: 5:40 p.m. Updated: 9:08 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

LOS ANGELESAmidst all the hoopla and hullabaloo of the NBAs All-Star weekend, one Derrick Martell Rose remains unchanged. This isnt Chicago, where hes a hometown hero, but the surprisingly large smatterings of Rose jerseys in downtown L.A.and Bulls gear, in generalshows that the third-year guard has become a nationwide phenomenon, despite his low-key persona.

Its very exciting, being here at a young age, just going through this experience. Its great, I appreciate it and I feel blessed to be here, Rose said of the experience Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Convention Center, following practice for Sundays game. More appearances, more media, everything. I just have to get used to it now. Everything is going all right.

Its fun, just being here with my family, with my friends, just walking around, going shopping and stuff like that. So, its been all right.

As the starting point guard for the star-studded Eastern Conference team, Rose plans on distributing the ball to the likes of LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire and fellow Chicagoan Dwyane Wade, all big-time finishers.

Thats going to be crazy. We have a lot of other great players on our team, too, but I think that our starting five is just crazy, where anybody can just get it and push it up the courtexcept for Dwightbut it should be an exciting game. It should be very competitive, said Rose. My job is to pass the ball. I dont have to score in this game. Ive got a lot of great scorers on my team. Were going to play an up-tempo type game and its just going to be fun.

While Rose clearly plays a game that appeals to fans, he insists he doesnt truly grasp how to excel in a more exhibition-type setting.

Ive been in a couple all-star games, at any level, but Ive never won MVP or something like that. I dont know why. Its fun playing in them, but its just a regular game to me, said Rose.

Instead, Roses goal for Sunday mirrors what he does for the Bulls on most nights: Win. Try to do anything to win.

Just pass the ball, push the ball up the court, pass it ahead, do whatever, he continued. You do think about it entertaining the fans, but you do want to win. Trust me. Just being on that team last year, the way the guys were coming back to the huddle and seeing the way they were talking about defense and offense, they want to win that game.

Thats the biggest thing, winning this game.

Rose did acknowledge that his natural game will probably have spectators on their feet, whether at the Staples Center or in their living rooms.

I think the way that I play is an exciting way. A lot of moves that I do are exciting to some people, he admitted. Bringing that to the game, I know its going to be fun.

Regardless of what he tells the media, dont be shocked if Rose gives a little extra effort to make up for his inaugural All-Star appearance last year, when he wasnt completely healthy and received scant playing time.

I was very hurt, but I had to play. Somehow, I had to play in that game, no matter what, said Rose, who added that hes approaching this years contest as if it was his debut All-Star Game. Thats the way Im looking at it right now, where Im going to have an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and just try to take advantage of those minutes because of last year.

Rose briefly touched on his strategy for Saturday nights Taco Bell Skills Challenge (he won the event in 2009), in which hell compete against New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.

Its going to be hard. The passing is hard. Youve just got to stay focused and try to make the right passes at the right time, explained Rose. You cant speed through the thing because youll end up messing up. Youve just got to take your time.

Looking ahead, Rose also talked about the impending return of center Joakim Noah following the All-Star break and how it would benefit the Bulls, particularly in transition and when opposing defenses key in on him.

Jo is a guy that, sometimes you see him pushing the break sometimes, handling the ball and I think another thing that hes going to bring to our team is his passing. Thats going to help our team, said Rose. Now, when teams double team comeKurt Thomas and those guys, theyve been doing a great jobbut Jo, he does a great job, too, and he can finish at the rim sometimes, if theyre playing his passing too well.

Rivers touts Rose as early MVP favorite

Eastern Conference head coach Doc Rivers joked about playing Roseas well as Orlandos Howard and Miamis trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh47 minutes each Sunday, while playing his own quartet of Celtics (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo) a minute apiece.

Rivers got serious, however, when discussing the Bulls and specifically Rose.

The Bulls have the MVP. They do. Derrick Rose, in my opinionright now, if I had to votehes the MVP of the league, said Rivers. When you have one on your team, especially with all the other guys and what Thibs is doing, theyre right in there. They can beat us and we can beat them. Its going to be tough.

Still, although hes partial to former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, Rivers somewhat surprisingly gave his midseason coach of the year vote to another coach with Chicago ties.

Thibs is always the Coach of the Year because hes my favorite guy, said Rivers. But actually, I would probably vote for current Philadelphia 76ers and former Bulls head coach Doug Collins, as crazy as that sounds. But Thibs would be right up there, too.

Rivers, a native of Maywood, Ill.just on the outskirts of Chicagoalso discussed coaching a starting All-Star backcourt consisting of two Windy City natives.

You know, I didnt even think about that," said Rivers. "Thats going to be pretty cool. That is good. Theyre both very athletic. We talk about it all the time, me and D-Wade, and now Rose, same thing. Chicago guys, they all stick together, they all know where each other are from and its just really neat. I think that its the best city, as far as basketball.

Wade honored Chicago backcourt to start for East

Unlike Rivers, Wade was more than aware of the significance of two Chicagoansboth South Sidersstarting in the East backcourt.

Its great for our city, for Chicagoa great city that doesnt get as much pub as other citiesto look and see that weve got two guys that start in the All-Star Game in the backcourt, said Wade, a graduate of Richards High School in Chicagos south suburbs. Rose has figured it out. Hes figured out how good he can be in this league and hes a bonafide All-Star for many, many years to come. I didnt know Derrick growing up in Chicago, but as a Chicago guy, I know how tough it is, how rough it is to grow up there, but Im proud of him and Im happy for him.

I know itll be dynamic. When I look out there before the game, Im going to say something to him, to look and see, This is big for where we come from, he continued. To have two guys from Chicago starting in the backcourt of the All-Star Game, thats an honor. We represent a lot of guys from Chicago thats going to be back there looking at this game, thats happy and excited for both of us. I will make sure I mention that to him and let him know that this is an honor for us to be here together, and Im glad that we could do it.

Wade also touched on his brief summer dalliance with the Bulls during free agency last offseason, when he considered pairing up with Rose and returning to his hometown.

Of course I broke it down to see would it work with both of us in the backcourt, with two guys that need the ball a lot, two guys that arent necessarily as proven shooters as other guys. But then I thought, Man, it would be dynamic, as well," said Wade. "Two guys that can break a defense down, two guys that can finish, etc. And then being my hometown."

That kid Rose is going to be great for a long time and you dont get the chance to play with too many great point guards too much," the 2010 All-Star Game MVP added. "That was very tempting to me.

Bulls legend impressed with Bulls, Noah

CSNChicago.com briefly caught up with former Bulls legend Artis Gilmore, who is in town for the festivities. The 7-foot-4 Gilmore still keeps up with the Bulls and is optimistic about their chances this season.

With Derrick Rose and with the addition of Carlos Boozerof course he started off injuredI think theyre playing extremely well right now and with Joakim Noah getting healthy, theyve got a chance to really excel and have success, Gilmore told CSNChicago.com. Certainly, nobody gave them an opportunity to pass the Celtics, the Magic and Miami, but I think theyre right there.

Gilmore is impressed with the development of Noah, likely the Bulls best at his position since his own playing days.

Jo has really developed and grown. He has really improved. Hes turned into an outstanding athlete, said Gilmore. I watched him in the 2009 first-round playoff series when they had an opportunity to beat Boston and they came up a little short, but they took them to a seven-game series. I watched the same sequence and saw his growth, where he would miss a layup in Noahs rookies season and in his second year, he really took it with force and the ball would go in. Every possession counts so much in the playoffs.

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.