by Michael Tillery

Use your real eyes to realize…

But it was no lie. I was there.

Derrick Rose is like Musika by KRS-One. One foot stompin’ in the past and the other kicking conventional thought like the Blast Master into the future. Imagine before the horns in the track go frantic that Derrick is gliding up the court about to go patented Mike but stops in the air to create something way different in reverse.

Something space suit different.

He’s already a classic. Yo, the young fella just turned 20 and is already in the discussion of the most athletic point guard ever.

He’s a rookie, but you have to respect the above statement. Just callin’ it how I see ‘em.

Just a few off the top of my head…feel free to add yours.

Isiah? Rose is stronger in the upper body but Zeke could definitely get up at that age.

Magic? Had length but was so chill he’d rather lay it up with taped fingers than dunk the ball.

Micheal Ray? Athletic? Yeah, but was Sugar as quick as Pooh?

Baron Davis? Interesting, but I think Derrick has another gear Boom can’t fade.

Kevin Johnson? Will bang it on your center (Not just Dream. He got Mark Eaton too), but otherwise see Zeke above.

Kidd? Jason was a triple double dynamo but never ever fell from the ceiling.

Oscar? Why, of course. The Big O did it all.

Who else but Oscar?

Anyone?

What an incredible night. The Sixers must have felt like Detroit when LeBron went for 26 straight after this sickdiculous

Andre looks like he slid on some Chicago nice.

My son Gaston was at the game with me and as I turned around to see his reaction, his hand was over his mouth.

Another writer and I looked at each other like it was Mike Iverson—or should I say Iverson Mike—all over again.

Oh, the Bulls won 103-92.

What’s his coach have to say? I asked Vinny Del Negro what it was like being a young coach and growing with a young point guard:

Vinny Del Negro: “Derrick has been fantastic. He’s like a sponge. He wants to get better. But he’s still a rookie and he still has a lot to learn. He’s handled things tremendously. He will One, two punchcontinue to mature and get better. We try to put him in areas where he’s comfortable. We don’t want to throw too much on him early and sometimes it might be good to just let him go out there and play and not think. When you think too much, your feet get slow. He has such great athleticism and such great explosion that he’s going to get into the open court and make plays for guys. He’ll continue to get better.”

“It helps. You need a general out there. A quarterback. That’s what you rely on.”

Rose is one of those players most would pay to watch. He’s one of those talents that come along so often that draw drops the hometown fans like they were watching the game in Chicago.

Derrick also told me after the game that the defining reason he signed with B.J. Amrstrong was because he’d been there as a point guard in every step of the way. What more could you ask for in an agent?

SLAM: What’s it like playing home? You hear all the time about distractions. You hear hero…you’re this…that…Michael Jordan. What’s the deal?
Derrick Rose: There’s really no distractions. My family is small, so don’t too many people call and bug me for things—at least not yet. It really helps coming to the games and seeing my relatives—family members and friends. The crowd really gives me a boost for the game.

SLAM: Just something I wanted to ask you. How did you see the Kansas loss in the National Championship and also you being drafted no. 1 by a team with a serious tradition?
DR: I haven’t really thought about that loss. I’ve been trying to block it out. Coming here and knowing the situation they were in. I feel that a little bit, but it’s gonna take more than me to build this franchise back to what it was.

SLAM: You have so much athleticism that you could take any point guard off the dribble. When do you pull back and pass off to your teammates? What’s the mental process?
DR: How ever they are playing me. If they play me soft, I’m going to attack.

SLAM: Typically, you don’t have rookies affect the outcome of games. Why do you think you and some other guys are making such an impact?
DR: I really don’t know. It’s in the person. If you don’t have it, then the person you are going against will destroy you on the court.

SLAM: Who did you watch growing up in terms of the point guard position? Obviously, you grew up in Chicago, so you followed the Bulls but were there any point guards you wanted to emulate.
DR: To tell you the truth, I didn’t watch any NBA growing up besides the Bulls. Other than that, I was at the park playing basketball. I didn’t really think about the NBA like that. I was never a basketball historian, I just loved the game.

SLAM: So who was that guy? Was it Mike?
DR: Michael Jordan.

SLAM: What did you take from his game the most?
DR: His competitiveness. He was one of the most competitive people in the world. That’s the reason why you are on the court—to take someone’s heart.

SLAM: Was it crazy you became the no. 1 pick for the Chicago Bulls? Did you dream about that?
DR: I never thought about it. I didn’t know if they were going to have to pick to get me.

That was before the game crazy as it sounds. Here’s what Derrick had to say after.

SLAM: Pre-game, you were modest about taking your man off the dribble. It seems like at the end of the shot or game clock, you seem to showcase your talents.
DR: I wanted the ball in my hands and make a play. My teammates have faith in me to make shots.

SLAM: Do you put a lot of focus on cutting down turnovers? Where are you in your game and what would you like to improve on?
DR: Turnovers. You look at all the point guards and you see the turnover ratio is down. I have to take care of the ball, so my big thing is getting them down. I have to work on being aggressive the whole game.

SLAM: Certain point guards have something that makes other’s comfortable enough to score when they are fed the ball. You seem to be one of those cats—like Jason Kidd, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton and some of the others. We’re looking at the game and your skill set is crazy. The three big plays you made tonight were not point guard plays.
DR: (Chuckles) I know I can beat my man so they’ll have to sag. I try to think beyond the play when I have the ball. I try to see where that man is going to be. Most of the time they do what I think.

SLAM: Talk about the Adidas kicks?
DR: I’ve been a Nike kid all my life. I started wearing adidas in college and they felt good. They made molds of my feet when I was in Los Angeles. They talked to me and made me comfortable so I felt good going with them.

I dig Lindsey Hunter a lot. He’s very articulate and loves talking about his teammates in a positive way. I had to hit him up about Rose. His eyes were smilin’ just as mine were after seeing what Derrick did on the court.

SLAM: Lindsey, you know I’m from here, but those three plays were amazing and they weren’t even point guard plays.
Lindsey Hunter: (Laughs) He’s a special talent. The kid is….I’ve seen so many so…you can tell the ones who kind of separate themselves right away and that’s the level where he’s at.

SLAM: You’ve played against Mike who dominated all the time. Some cats dominate by making one or two clutch plays.
Elton BrandedLH: Yeah they change the complexion of the game. He has that uncanny ability. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen him do certain things that you can’t teach.

SLAM: Does he lean on you?
LH: He’s a really open young kid. I think that helps him maximize all his attributes. He wants to know every thing. It’s hard to find that in kids who have been given so much. I tell everybody I talk with about Derrick is that he has a great person. You don’t really get that a lot.

Elton Brand (21 and 12) just smiles when I walk up because I’m usually way after the throng of reporters because I’m shape shifting from locker room to locker room. The Sixers have had two bad losses in a row and have lost four straight. Besides Brand, Miller had 15 and 10 and Thaddeus Young had 17. I asked Coach Cheeks if these last two losses could be chalked up to bad games and he shook his head in semi agreement. He also stressed that defense is the key like he has been this season because it’s his trademark. Good defense for this team creates turnovers and easy baskets at the other end. That hasn’t been happening consistently over this four game stretch. The Sixers will put it out. I’m sure, but they have to figure out soon how to do so and I don’t know what that answer is.

SLAM: What do you think bruh?
Elton Brand: (Sighs) People talk about offense, offense. Guys are struggling, but we are also struggling as a group defensively. Teams are shooting like 53 percent from three and 52 percent from inside the arc. Half of their shots are going in. You are not going to stop anyone that way. It’s tough to stop.

The differenceSLAM: Most think you all are going to turn this around. What can you take from this to help in the transition of a new level of success?
EB: You have to look at every game as an opportunity to win. Last year the team got behind ten games below .500 and then turned it on. We don’t have that luxury this year. Teams are getting better in the East. We have to start separating ourselves right now.

Drew Gooden stepped up tonight and was part of the three headed monster of Rose (18 and 10), Gordon (21) and himself (20 and 12 boards).

SLAM: Drew you probably were the difference in the game.
Drew Gooden: When we were down fifteen points, I told the guys we have to go out there and compete. That’s what we began to do going in to that second quarter. We were down 15, cut it to 10 and then it was back up to 15. I kind of got it going offensively. Got some offensive rebounds and my teammates hit some open shots and that’s what changed the game. I started cramping up in the second half. We went up 17 points because my teammates got it going.

Yes they did and it all started with a Rose growing out of the Chicago concrete.