Originally published in SLAM 63
The 6th Man: Jalen Rose calls me “Nuh.” Actually, he calls just about everybody that, but it just strikes me as funny when it comes my way, given my melanin-challenged state. We’ve been cool for a couple years now—given the Pacers’ frequent NYC visits and an extended trip I took to Indy to catch up with Jermaine O’Neal. Unlike Reggie Miller, who wouldn’t give us the time of day, J. Rose has always been cool. He’s been SLAM material since the Fab Five days.
On the flipside, I’ve always been a Bulls fan. Those of you who have kept track know how deep my love for MJ goes, but when Money retired I tried to stay loyal. No matter what the Jerrys did, no matter how stupid and arrogant they seemed, I never jumped off the bandwagon. I may have gone inside and covered myself with a blanket, but I never jumped off. If I survived Granville Waiters and Brad Sellers, I could get through Fred Hoiberg and Dalibor Bagaric.
So, when the Bulls pulled off a midseason deal with the Pacers to acquire Jalen and Travis Best, this was almost too good to be true. I felt bad for Jalen, seeing that he’d be sitting out the playoffs for the first time in a minute, but I knew that it would help the Bulls in the long run. More importantly, I could feel comfortable wearing a Bulls jersey in public again, for the first time since Money and Pip walked (sorry, Elton—you just weren’t there long enough).
The Double OT line about the Rose No. 5 Bulls jersey (SLAM 60) got dropped casually, with an NBA Store trip planned. This wasn’t a request or anything—and for all you haters, the Jalen feature (page 56) was already in the works. But right after the issue dropped, there was the package, from Jalen through SFX. The white No. 5, signed even. (Although I ain’t gonna go all Kobe and wear it—I’ll still pick up an unsigned one.) Bottom line is, Jalen looks out for his people. And, if you check the story, you’ll see how much his people look out for him. So thanks, Jalen—and how about the playoffs next year?