Bulls guard Derrick Rose is more than just an NBA MVP to Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago…)
At long last, Derrick Rose is back. Not just playing preseason games, either. The Bulls' game Tuesday at Miami is the most anticipated Chicago season opener since, well, maybe ever. What did everyone miss most? You can start with this list.
Andrew Barber, Fake Shore Drive owner/creator
For Rose, I respect the way that he cares so deeply about his city. The day he broke down in tears during his Adidas press conference because of the violence in Chicago, more specifically in Englewood, was so powerful and sincere. You could feel his pain. It wasn't an act. He really wants to change things and make a difference.
Christopher Cason, Bulls beat reporter
In spending several years now around Derrick Rose and getting to see him both as a competitor and a person, the one thing I admire about him is that he truly gets it.
There's an unbelievable amount of pressure that comes in playing in your hometown. You add on being a No. 1 pick, the youngest MVP in league history, the indisputable face of the franchise since MJ and playing under those six [championship] banners, and for some, it could become claustrophobic just coming in to work every day. Derrick understands all of that and embraces it. The love and loyalty he has for his family and the city of Chicago is second to none.
Matthew Cassell, Evanston native and Middle East journalist
It would take someone special with just the right mix of skills and leadership, not to mention that unique off-the-court charisma, to ever fulfill Chicago's desire to be able to cheer greatness again. Of course, being a hometown kid wouldn't hurt either.
Derrick Rose has all of that. But just when the Bulls looked they might be able to repeat what their predecessors from the '90s had done, our star went down. His thud on the court was echoed with a thud in our hearts. It was a tragic moment captured in the pain stricken face of the young athlete as he went down with a knee injury.
I know for many Chicagoans, Rose is something more than just a basketball player. Coming from Englewood, the city's most notoriously dangerous neighborhood, Rose is an inspiration for so many youth.
Where classrooms contain two or three times as many students as they should, where work opportunities are almost nonexistent and where young people are gunned down on a weekly basis, Rose overcame all the odds to become a homegrown hero. Knowing all that and just how tough of a city Chicago can be, it's impossible to not tip your hat to everything that Rose has already accomplished. And that reverence will be blatantly obvious by the deafening screams of Chicagoans the next time D-Rose's name is announced in the starting lineup.
Billy Dec, entrepreneur
I remember before D-Rose was 21 some of his more rambunctious teammates tried to drag him to Underground. I will never forget how awkward it was for me as a huge fan to have to tell them he couldn't get in because I knew he was underage and I don't break that rule, and interestingly, I could see the awkwardness in Derrick's face looking like he didn't even want to be out like that.
I really don't think he gets distracted or fazed by the nightlife scene or other things he probably has full access to. Every time we run into each other he is just a super kind, courteous gentleman who you can tell is always focused on his game.
Sean Elliot, retired NBA player
Too many things to name, to be honest with you. I love the fact that he's a team player. He's a good kid. He seems to have his head on straight. He plays really hard. And he respects the game. and it seems to me that he respects what came before him, and that's becoming more uncommon.
Adrian Griffin, Bulls assistant coach
Derrick is humble. Everyone loves a guy who wants it and puts in the time and energy and focus. He wants to be great. And you gotta respect that. I've never seen a more humble All-Star, or superstar, we'll say. He's definitely himself a superstar in this league, but he doesn't carry himself with the ego. He's all about the team, and all about doing whatever it takes. … He reminds me of Kobe, and MJ. Guys like that. Guys that you're gonna have to cut their hearts out because they're going to keep coming.
Tim "Sgt. Tibs" Hanrahan, GoWhereHipHop founder
The two things I most respect about Derrick Rose stem from two moments I actually cried along with him. Rose was overcome with emotion at the release of his new shoes this past fall in appreciation of everything and everybody that's helped him get to where he is today. And also over a city—his city—plagued by gang violence and an ongoing public school strike. It hit home and pierced his heart.