by Russ Bengtson
A few weeks ago, I landed at LAX, picked out my Hyundai rental at Alamo (one with Cali plates—I ain’t stupid), and was in the In N Out Burger drive-through on Sepulveda within a half-hour of deplaning. My priorities might be crooked in other areas, but I know exactly what to do when I find myself in Los Angeles.
But if this is about double-doubles, it’s not about the one I ate (Animal style, with fries and a Coke) on the grass directly under the LAX landing pattern. Rather it’s—warning, awkward transition ahead!—the 10 double-doubles the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose stacked last year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year in a rout. Derrick was out in Cali for adidas’ annual Super Shoot, and we followed close behind to get our own shots for the cover you see here.
Why, you may ask, are we putting someone on the cover of KICKS who doesn’t even have a signature shoe? A fair question. Were this a different time—and were adidas a different company—D. Rose would undoubtedly have his own model. But somehow this seems more right. More fitting. Derrick readily admits to not even wanting to watch his own highlights dating back to his Memphis days, and apparently feels more comfortable discussing his failures than his successes.
For example, check out these two exchanges from our post-shoot Q&A:
KICKS: What was the switch like from the regular season to the Playoffs?
ROSE: A whole other level. Every possession counts. Turnovers, everything counts. In the Playoffs, you can’t mess up, really.
KICKS: And you were going against the defending champs.
ROSE: Yeah, it was fun. It was real fun.
Compare that with this:
KICKS: Who were the toughest guys you went against?
ROSE: Everybody. Oh, growing up? You’re talking like in high school? AAU? Something like that?
KICKS: Yeah, high school, AAU, even playground.
ROSE: Who was the toughest player? Man, the only person that really served me, like really really served me, I don’t even know this boy name. I just know he go to Montana. He probably a senior this year, he probably a senior, and I was young and playin’ up, that’s what you’re supposed to do. It was some boy, he was from Minnesota, he played for a Minnesota team, they came into Chicago, and I was playin’ up. And he served me, I can’t lie.
KICKS: He was another point guard?
ROSE: He had to be a two guard the way he was shootin’. I wanted to check the best player on the floor, so I was checkin’ him. It seemed he wasn’t missin’. He had to have 30-somethin’, 40 points or something like that. I don’t know his name, but I know he goes to Montana.
This was literally the most animated Rose got during our whole talk—speaking about some unnamed kid who busted him up a long time ago. Playing the defending champion Celtics in the playoffs? Meh. Getting lit up by some nameless kid from Minnesota? He’d talk about that all day if you let him.
Well, and if he didn’t have to go get ready for the ESPYs. (For the record, I looked up the current Montana AND Minnesota rosters when I got back to my hotel, and couldn’t find anyone who fit the description. So, if you’re a guy from Montana or Minnesota who lit up Derrick Rose a long time ago, let us know.)
The question of whether or not Rose would want a signature shoe went unasked, but still got answered. In every sense, Rose seems happier being part of a team. There’s probably a part of him that feels uncomfortable just being on this cover alone.
But we’re glad he’s there.
[For so much more from Derrick and Russ, not to mention great features on the likes of Brandon Jennings, Nate Robinson and the Jordan Brand’s new retro plans, as well as hundreds of great shoes, pick up your copy as soon as you see it! Or, if you aren’t already a SLAM subscriber, sign up now and we’ll send you KICKS for free.—Ed.]