Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 7:32 am  |  97 responses

SLAM 143: On Sale Now!

Derrick Rose wants to be MVP.

If you think about it, there aren’t many better stories in the NBA than Derrick Rose’s. Kid comes up in Chicago, anointed a future NBA star by the time he’s 15, leads the city’s most-storied high school program to state- and nation-wide acclaim, takes his college team to the national championship game as a freshman, and then gets picked first—by his hometown Bulls—in the Draft. Derrick’s dream has continued right into the L, as he’s put up two great seasons and has set his sights on “best player in the game” status. It’s more than enough to warrant putting this exciting young player on the first SLAM cover he has all to himself. Big thanks to adidas for getting us time with Derrick, Atiba Jefferson for getting some great portraits, and Aggrey Sam (going for “best young reporter in the game” status) for knocking out a really good story. Aggrey’s got some nice background on his personal history with Derrick below, but for the full DRose piece—not to mention Lang Whitaker’s NBA Preview, Tzvi Twersky’s Old School feature on Mitch Richmond and so much more—you’ll have to pick this issue up on newsstands beginning today…—Ben Osborne

by Aggrey Sam / portraits by Atiba Jefferson

You know how investors talk about “getting in on the ground floor” on something that’s about to get big? That’s how I feel about covering Derrick Rose.

No, I wasn’t hip to his potential brilliance as early as some folks—his talents were known to some South Side hoops aficionados as early as his middle-school days at Beasley Academic Center—but considering my background in reporting high school hoops (know how I know I’ve been around too long? When I see John Wall at the Bulls-Wiz preseason game and I can tell people “back in the day” stories), I don’t feel like I’m behind the curve.

But to be honest, the first time I watched “Poohdini” play in person, I came away disappointed. It was at Chicago State, during the annual CPS Holiday Tournament in early ’07. Rose’s top-ranked Simeon squad faced off with relatively unheralded Farragut (the alma mater of KG and Ronnie Fields did have former Oregon center Mike Dunigan, then a junior) before an SRO crowd in what was supposed to be a cake matchup.Derrick Rose as shot by Atiba Jefferson.

Instead, Farragut pulled off the upset and Rose looked shockingly mortal in defeat, although he showed a few flashes of the highlight-reel ability that had earned him so much acclaim. Still, while I was extremely impressed with the Chi’s prep scene, I thought Rose might be a tad overrated (although I quickly changed my tune) and benefited from killing on the summer circuit, where his athleticism made up for whatever else lacked in his game.

Fast forward to about three years later, when I first took the gig covering Rose’s Bulls for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. His exploits at Memphis, ROY season and role in Chicago’s classic first-round duel with Boston have me sold that the kid is for real by now.

I’m assigned a SLAM China (I know, I didn’t know that even existed or was a separate publication before the assignment myself) cover story on Derrick, who I’m just starting to get to know. The team’s top-notch PR staff doesn’t know me that well at this point, so it’s not a major concern and after a couple days of patiently biding my time, the deadline is approaching.

I figure if I low-key the situation (Derrick’s already aware that I need an interview) in the locker room after a game, I can get it done quick and smooth. I get about five minutes in of my one-on-one before other reporters come through, asking about the game (nothing is more awkward than asking feature-type questions when beat writers are on deadline, as I now see both sides of the coin), something I also need to do.

I wait them out, tell Derrick thanks and if he has time, he can feel free to hit me from the road, since I hadn’t yet started traveling. Although he vows to call me from the team hotel, I resign myself to the fact that I’ll have to actually write something, rather than the requested Q&A.

The next day comes and after answering an unfamiliar number with a Chicago area code that comes across my phone, I’m greeted with: “What up, this is D. Rose.” How many cats—remember, this is a notoriously shy 21-year-old NBA star dealing with the demands and expectations with playing in his hoops-crazed hometown—would call a virtual stranger for a piece they won’t even be able to read (nor could I; after all, it was in Chinese), prompting from the PR department or not? To say a handful would be generous.

And that’s why I don’t mind the supposed-to-be 45-minute daily treks to and from the Berto Center or staying at arenas until after midnight with a 6 a.m. flight ahead of me—you know, the glamorous parts of this job. Not that dealing with any of the Bulls in particular is a hassle, but dealing when the face of the franchise treats everybody with the same level of respect, is genuinely humble, works diligently to get better every day, has a burning desire to win and is obviously outrageously talented—even if I was skeptical way back when—it makes my job that much easier.

So when assigned to write this piece—I interviewed him sporadically over the past few months, in L.A. back in June all the way through training camp—I wanted to capture Derrick’s growth into a leader, development as a player, fierce determination and tireless work ethic, but most importantly, his humility. I don’t see him changing his ways any time soon, but I hope readers get a little taste of what I’m privy to on a daily basis by being on the ground floor for the evolution of a superstar.

Aggrey Sam covers the Chicago Bulls for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

SLAM 143: Derrick Rose.

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  • http://Slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Dope Aggrey, as always. DRose is that dude. Good people…

  • tato

    First!!!!!, woao… the latest issues and covers are amazing, i´m waiting for SLAM # 150….
    Thanks from México…

  • IHaveADream

    I knew he had a cover coming. This is a good look SLAM.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com Michael NZ

    Atiba ALWAYS gets it done.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Mr. Personality himself. always looks so bored with it all. Nice gangsta pose and the red is sweeeeet.

  • mytiman

    DRose got some hard a** tattoos on his foreams. I knew this kid is going to be a star after that great BOSTON CHICAGO series. Glad LeBron never came to Chicago and stole the spotlight from him. And also that he got his very own sig shoe, which is VERY VERY LIGHT!

    DRose for MVP 10-11. Lead the Bulls Young fella!

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Aside from Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose is the only other player in the NBA that I know of that would do photos for a cover shoot without a haircut…

  • http://kb24.com Bigi

    Nice cover, Russ must be pleased…

  • slamfan4life


  • arthur

    Niiice cover!

  • http://kb24.com DreXnaW21

    i love this cover!!
    DRose gon’ kill em

  • mattydchi

    Pooh’s got a mean mug going. Dude looks all Biz.

  • Ken

    Is it just me, or does DRose have the exact same facial expression in every photo/video ever?

  • lexluther703


  • ugly_fish

    how much money did adidas dump at ur office to get him on the cover??? overrated as hell, 2 avg seasons and last where he barely made it into the playoffs. dis cover almost as unwarranted as that Jennings
    cover last yr.

  • Nashty

    I love DRose’s game. But I think he is a little overrated at this point.

  • http://slamonline.com Art


  • doppler

    Y’all are stupid hating. Nice cover, slam

  • http://SLAMonline.com GotHandles?


  • JD

    SLAM China? Can we please get SLAM Europe?

  • CB

    wow this is so awesome

  • Hammer

    Luv the cover! And no way is rose overrated or average 4 that matter. How is a cat that put up 16 and 6 his rookie yr and 20 and 6 last yr average? Remember that this will b only his 3rd yr n the L. Watch 4 him 2 improve this yr as well especially those dimes. Sounds like haters n the house. GO TOROS!

  • jer

    damn nice cover

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    They aren’t going to post number 2 or 1 until the end of the day are they? lol

  • http://slam TERENCE ANG

    nice slam!!! hope I’m in THRASH TALK AGAIN!!! HOpe the Bulls win the eastern finals or just scare some shit out of the HEAT.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    When a guy is talented, works hard everyday, is HUMBLE as hell, and is without question the best player on his team and the face of the franchise (and one of the new faces in the NBA marketing machine)gets hated on and called “overrated,” ask yourselves, what kind of person does that make you?

  • jahmai

    YES!!! Drose is one of my favorite players. I was hoping for this one for a long time. Awesome cover Slam!

  • IHaveADream

    What’s up with the D-Rose hate? lol

  • The Philosopher

    @Bryan Crawford:
    It is funny you should mention the haircut quagmire.
    J.R. Smith, Boris Diaw, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez, Andre Miller.
    Just to name a few.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    AWWWW SHHHHEEEEIIIT! Rose is my DUDE! I’m glad he finally got a cover again. It’s been way too damn long! I’ma get two of these. Screw the haters. Go ahead and take Rondo, I’ll keep my Rose.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    None of you Rose haters better enter that D. Rose giveaway either!

  • Miss Johnson

    AHHH! I’m so proud of Rose on the cover of SLAM! Chicago represent baby!!!!!!!!

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Co-sign James the Balla.

  • Lil Bossie

    773 born; raised; and on to the championship babyyyy! D.Rose for MVP!

    Great piece, Sam. He’s one of the brightest in the business. Go check out his articles at C-CCSN.

  • http://balln.com Rodney Jeter

    Love the cover D.Rose Chi-Town Standup!!!!!!

  • http://bulls.com airs

    siiiiccck. cant wait to get this in the mail!

  • http://bulls.com airs

    @Art, if youve watched any of this preseason, rose has developed a decent mid range shot and the reason his dimes haven’t shown up on the stat sheet is cuz teammates aren’t hitting their shots.
    i think aggrey should cover chicago stuff more often

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    D-Rose better do work this year. That’s all.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I do kinda have to take issue with Simeon being called the “city’s most storied high school program”. Over Crane, Marshall, Westinghouse and Whitney Young? Ehh…I’m not so sure. But Simeon is up there though.

  • andrew

    Tell me ART why hasnt rando got a cover yet ohh ya thats right because he is the most overrated PLAYER in the league, oh and drose can hit from anywere on the floor your not a big bball fan are u.

  • Daisha


  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Alright SLAM, eff you! It’s 2 here in Ontario and I have to leave for the god damn airport!! You couldn’t put the friggin’ article up right away today? Peace!!


  • http://Slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    @Enigmatic: Ben Wilson
    @airs: Where’s the love? LOL

  • http://Slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Allen, I think that goes w/o saying…

  • ETphonehome

    In the words of Stacey King: Don’t do em like that DRose

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com CHICAGO SAID IT YUP

    simeon is chicago most storied high school program? i think not

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com CHICAGO SAID IT YUP

    i was once skeptical of rose when he was in H.S. i told everybody sherron collinswas better. *cough cough* but i went to the imfamous city championship game d.rose junior year..and lets just say he put on a show. Never once again doubted him. Then i watched him closely at memphis and remember thinking during the NCAA tourney…wow this guy is a freshmen and he is better than deron williams and chris paul was in college. Now entering his 3rh year…its time for him to take that leap to show everyone what we already know…he will be the best!

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Yes, Bryan, I know all about Benji. But… other schools have won more CPL titles.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    True. Crane and Marshall on the winning side, most definitely. But in terms of just flat-out, elite, individual basketball talent on a consistent basis, Simeon, by far. My opinion though, along with a Southside bias.

  • http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-bulls-confidential/ Diesel

    “This boy is from Chicago and he got a 40 inch vertical, and he can go HIGHER! Oh my goodness!”
    The kid has been a winner at every level. He’s consistently showed improvement over time. He doesn’t demand attention. He welcomes the pressure. He proudly and openly represents his city. To echo B Crawford’s statement: If you feel the need to hate on, or criticize him, then something is wrong with you.

  • Pingback: SLAM Magazine Issue 143 – On Sale Now | CounterKicks

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nima Zarrabi

    Nice work Aggrey. Love the cover too. @Bryan: Dropping knowledge with that haircut comment and setting the haters straight. Nicely done.

  • greatnesspersonified

    Good for Derrick. Now when are you guys posting the 1&2?

  • Heals

    Totally deserving, great look!

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson


  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    the cover looks fine..bout Rose wanting to be the MVP, well,a big fat LMFAO to that!

  • park

    Good writeup..but you use a lot of parentheses

  • http://www.slamonline.com Pardeep

    The way Durant exploded last year, is the way Rose will this year, hes gonna take his game to the next level and be that superstar… a year from now well be saying best PG in the league!. BOOK IT!

  • Blackphantom

    @Art at least D-Rose isn’t terrible from the free-throw line

  • tRay

    D-Rose got mad skills but MVP I think not but play on cuz

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Hi, im derrick, will you take my SAT for me? ……….. ….. ….. …. … … … ..This is getting goofy, people are overhyping dude, hes very good, but best pg good? No chance. His ppg will drop, assists stay about the same, his 3pt shot has not improved, and thats against preseason defense. …. If dude puts up 23 9, ill eat my words, but I think im safe.

  • http://slamonline.com tealish

    Let’s see what this dude is gonna do this season.
    I feel his ranking on SLAM’s Top 50 is too high, and just the overall expectations for him this year, do not seem possible. A lot of you seem to believe this is the year he breaks out.
    I don’t see it. In my mind, he will never get 24 and 9.
    Talented and humble — great guy to have on your team. But he’s not on that top level, not even in terms of potential. Just my 2c.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    I really hope Ryne Nelson is on the article.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    But I’m sure Aggrey did a great job…

  • Affc

    Youll be eatin ur words TARZAN

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Bouquet of Buckets!

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Needless to say, I feel pretty good about this cover and the feature that runs inside.

  • lockon

    nice one slam thanx for the d.rose cover!!!

  • http://bulls.com Harry Twatter

    Nice as red cover. I’m grabbing this as soon as i see it!

  • http://slamonline.com steve

    who are on the posters?

  • hillbilly

    No disrespect to the ridiculously talented D-Rose, but he won’t be MVP. (Not this year, anyhow.) Unless LBJ goes apesh!t bonkers and pulls an Oscar Robertson, that particular award will belong to Mr. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Beelee dat.

  • EJ

    Why can’t you already tell who is number 1 in top 50?

  • http://bulls.com airs

    @tarzan, his 3 pt shot has improved pretty well actually. he hit a big one to tie the game at the end of the fourth this preseason…given it was preseason. but 23 and 9, with boozer, korver and jo? i can see that happening.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    airs, because he has boozer, he wont avg 23. he got 20 last year trying to score more than he will this season. he will probably avg 7 assists.

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  • jonny

    hey, no one mentioned Rose`s much improved three point shooting. C-mon, I mean he did shoot an outstanding 23% during the preseason. With those numbers he will be absolutely unguardable this season as the 7th best PG in the league

  • jonny

    one more thing, Derrick Rose is the Brock Lesnar of the NBA. Completely overrated.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    awesome… I’m glad SLAM gave D-Rose some love… I was fearing another Kobe-LeBron-Dwight cover

  • http://slamonline.com Matt Lawyue

    Love this cover.

  • http://slamonline.com Jeremy Bauman

    Cant wait to read this story, seems like you got him covered incredibly aggrey… Real hard cover too.

  • Zach

    Hate on D Rose? Over rated? ha. He backs up his own stats. Lets talk bout somethin diff. D Rose won’t/ will never back down from anyone in the L. He stays humble and hungry. And he wasn’t too stuck up to play for his country this summer. NO DAYS OFF

  • http://nba.com/lakers Stephon

    @Ben Osborne- As an aspiring sports journalist (by the way I’m only 14 years old)I’d like the opportunity to write an article for Slam magazine. I understand that I’m young but I know a lot about basketball. I can go on about my attributes but I’m not aiming to impress I’m aiming for the opportunity to write an article for this great magazine. Thanks!

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Chat Online with Derrick Rose Tonight

  • ryan

    F Derrick Rose I want to read the Mitch Richmond piece.

  • rapsfan43

    Can’t wait for the DeMar/Bargnani/Barbosa/Klieza/Jack/ Ed Davis Cover when the Raptors surprise all you Canadian haters

  • Luiyo

    Westbrook is better

  • http://ballislife.com/stephonfields Stephon

    Disrigard that comment yesterday I was so pumped about the article and I ended up posting that!

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  • Adrian Wojnarowski’s no. 1 fan

    hey slam why dont you give the best damned sportswriter in the world a cover or his own special issue? i think you should give the GOAT, Adrian Wojnarowski a 5 part special issue of how great he damn is. he is bigger than jordan, magic, bird, wilt and erving’s greatness combined. even dave zirin should make an article for him. he thinks he is batman to the nba player’s scarecrow. the scarecrow of the dark knight, not batman begins, mind you. that is how powerful and egotistical he is. pls honor him with 10 straight covers, thanks!!!

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  • Erich

    This was written on Oct 22nd. The season hadn’t even started yet.

    With D rose 7th in scoring, top 10 in assists and a long range bomb…I bet this man is regretting his comments. Btw, isn’t is ironic that he bashed Rose for not having a jumper (which wasn’t true last year), and said he would pick Rondo of Rose when Rondo cannot shoot if his life depended on it. Oh, yeah and rondo is shooting only 43% from the FREE THROW LINE!

    D ROSE is an MVP candidate and the man IS backing up his words.

  • big pugg

    @Erich—GET’EM!!!!(in Redman’s voice)lol

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