Check out this special episode of Off Court, where we sit down with NBA & Chicago Bulls superstar, Derrick Rose, to talk about his upbringing, his year out, being a father, his hopes for next season, the future and much more!
Derrick Rose Full Hoopsfix.com Interview Transcript
Thursday 11th July 2013 – Ethos Sports Hall, London, UK.
Questions in bold, Derrick’s answers in regular font.
Derrick, thanks for joining us, really appreciate it.
Thanks, man, thanks for having me.
Can we start just by talking about what basketball means to you, when you first start playing and how important the game has been to you throughout your life?
Basketball means a lot for me that’s where I really go on court and just relax be myself and think about nothing but hooping. When I’m out there that’s the only thing I think about is winning the game, I get peace of mind out there when Im out there playing basketball, so, I love the game. I started playing the game when I was probably 5 or 6 years old, my older brothers played, I don’t know if they was the reason why I started playing I just know I love the sport.
Fast forward to now, to have it taken away from you for the past year and a half how hard has that been?
It was definitely hard missing whole year of basketball, but my son came at the right time so he kinda took the attention away from me, just being around him the majority of the year and realy just being around him as much as I can because I didn’t have my father around when I was younger so just trying to be there for him and trying to kinda let him know that I’ll always be in his corner.
Talking about being a father, has it changed your perspective on life and basketball at all?
Erm, I think it’s something totally different, where basketball is basketball, and me being around him and raising him is something totally different, far away from that. Becuse when I’m done playing basketball, I rarely watch basketball, this is the most basketball I’ve ever watched in my life, when I’m done with it I’m done with it. I’ll watch a little bit of film here and there with coach Thibs, but usually I’m in the house watching movies or something like that because you get tired of it; I play 82 games, my whole life is basketball – you get tired of it sometimes. Being around him is something totally different, where, I can be around him all day just seeing him laugh, smile, eat, cry, and I’m really learning him. That’s my first time evever being around a baby like that, I’ve had neices and nephews but having my old kid at 24 years old, it’s another experience.
Do you feel like this year, now that you’ve rehabbed and your back to health, do you think the injury has taken anything away from your game or do you expect to come back better?
I know I’ma come back better. Knowing that all the hard work I put into my craft, I’ve been doing a lot of shooting so I think my jump shot is going to be, I know, it’s going to be a whole lot better. It’s just I don’t know how strong I’m gonna be, I don’t know how to put that into my game, not yet, but I know I’ma be a way better player.
You’re still only 24, still way off your prime – how much better do you think you can get?
There’s always room for improvement. Starting this summer, just starting back playing, I’ve just tried to go through everything, start from the basics and really work myself back up. Started doing basic layups, mikan drills, start my flow of the game back, really get my left hand a lot better where I’m able to finish with my left hand a little better than before the injury, and just trying to polish every little, even if I don’t polish it all the way, just polish it a little bit more better than before the injury.
What are your expectations for the team performance next season?
I think we’re gonna be a good team. We have a young nucleus, we have Jimmy Butler who I think is gonna be playing a lot next year, I don’t know if he’s gonna be starting, but he’s gonna be playing a lot. He’s in the gym all the time working out. Joakim is someone working out right now, everybody’s getting better individually so we have a young group like that that’s been playing together 3 or 4 years, the same group, I think we’re gonna be a tough team to beat.
Talking of your teammates, you’re teammates with British favourite Luol Deng, what can say you about him, what do you think of him as a teammate and a player – is he has underrated as everyone says he is?
Oh yeah for sure. Lu is like the father figure of the team, making sure people go in, stay in for the night if we have a big game, just letting us know he’s always there for us and he’s the most vocalist teammate that i have. Joakim of course, he get emotionally involved in the game, but Lu, for sure you’re always gonna hear him, making sure everyone’s calming down at the right moment.
You obviously grew up on the South Side of Chicago, how difficult was that?
It was tough. I always say it was your typical bad neighbourhood, where it wasn’t worse than anywhere – it’s the same, and all that it’s caused by is people trying to make it out. The whole time people are just trying to find ways to improve their life, and for me, basketball was my way where I was trying to change my mum, really just stop her from working. My mum is pretty up there with her age, so I was just trying my hardest get to the league as quickly as possible.
I saw your refurbished Murray Park, is that something that’s a high priority of yours – to make a difference in the community you grew up in?
Oh yeah, not only my community, but the whole Chicago area period. I did the park, but I’ve got much more bigger plans than that, where, I really want to change chicago Period. Right now, teens, young people; the youth , they’re stuck right now. A whole generation where they don’t care about their life right now, so they just out there living, living a negative life and I’m jus tryna give them hope and let them know God is real, that of course it’s gonna be hard, everything not’s gonna be handed to you, you gotta work for it, but you still can’t go out there and do some of the things that they do and pray for a good life.
Did you always know you were going to go to the NBA from a young age?
I kinda didn’t know until my year in Memphis, actually after the Tournament. The years before that I always knew I had a chance, but after the tournament that we had; we lost in the Championship, I knew that it was a great opportunity for me to leave.
One of your life mottos is “everybody eats” can you explain about what that means to you?
Me and my guys, some people probably have one friend, two friends, or you got a lot of people out there that don’t trust anybody. But For me, I have seven guys that I trust, guys that I’ve known since I was in third grade, some guys I’ve known since sixth grade, eighth grade, high school and we just hung around each other every single day just communciating with one another, just letting each other know we really love each other. Everybody eats, actually each of us got the tattoo and that’s something we live by, where I think you have a lot of groups or you have teams where you have people that are jealous of another person that usually tear the team up or people get mad at the other person and snitching and all that stuff happens. But for me, I learned from other people mistakes looking back at the history and I knew that if everybody’s on the same page it shouldn’t be that way.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your career – has there been any particular stand out performance that you look back?
I try to forget about that to tell you the truth. I look at my YouTube videos sometimes just to see how I played, but it’s a new beginning for me. I can actually do something that no other play ever did. I know there’s gonna be a lot of attention on me next year, for a player that is trying to become an icon that’s the stage you live for so I’m gonna take advantage of it.
How do you deal with media scrutiny? You’ve had a lot of pressure this year, especially with the injury – is it something you block out and just try and ignore?
For me, I couldn’t care less what people say about me. If anything, I know who I am as a person, I know the people around me and the people that I trust. I know they’re always in my corner and I’m always in their corner and at the end, it’s really just me and my family, so, I couldn’t care less what people say about me.
What are your hopes for the future? What do you want your legacy to be when you leave the NBA?
There’s only one thing. I always say I always want to be known as a winner. Winning takes care of everything, it touches every category. If you’re worried about money, if you win, you don’t got to worry about that, any category you can think of, winning takes care of that in my sport.
There’s been a shift in the league recently with all these “super teams” being formed -you’ve got Miami, Brooklyn has just happened. Is that something you can see yourself doing or do you want to stay in Chcicago the rest of your life and build around that?
Right now I’m happy man. We have a young team, where we love being around each other – that’s what you need. The way I think about basketball, I always think about AAU, I played on a team where, I think our centre was 6’5” 6’6”, we beat almost every team out there that had superstar team. Back when I was in high school basketball was not all about just having stars on your team, it was how well you all play and how much you all believe in each other, that’s what really matters.
We’ve got a few Fan Questions as well that have been sent in for you.
Rebecca asked, what has kept you motivated whilst recovering from your injury?
What kept me motivated? Knowing that i can become a better player. It’s my first time I’ve ever trained my body the way I’m training it right now so I don’t know how I’ma play but I know i’m gonna be way better. But I don’t know if my cuts are gonna be sharper, I really don’t know, I just know it’s gonna improve my game.
Vaughn asked, Chicago is a hotbed for basketball talent, who are some of the best talents out of Chicago that never made it?
Oh man, that never made it? I’m gonan go back to when I was playing – Sherron Collins, John Shire, DeAndre…what was big dre name…I forgot his last name. Who else didn’t make it? Stephon Hellen?
I read an article about one guy Lester ‘Polk Dog’ Calvin?
Oh yeah, but he was older, way older. If anything you can learn from that lesson – don’t mess with drugs.
George, asked is there any scope for the Bulls to play in London anytime soon, is it something you can make it happen?
Nah I can’t make it happen! (Laughs). Y’all probably can ask David Stern, or there’s a lot of adidas people back there you probably can ask –this is the perfect opportunity for your right now to ask!
Steve asked what are you trying to add to your game for next season and how are you feeling about the team?
I told you; shooting, I think my shooting is definitely gonna be a big key for my game next year, how easily I’m shooting the ball now. I think I’m gonna stretch the floor a little bit more and for me I think that’s huge because I already have people that know the strings but right when I get the double team out a little bit longer it’s gonna give Joakim and Boozer an opportunity to make plays and get people open.
Robert asked, what would you say to encourage youths aiming to be where you are today?
Just keep working hard. Hard work pays off. My example – the year that I won the MVP I think was one of the hardest I ever went in the summer while I was in the league and I didn’t know how I was gonna end up playing, I knew my confidence was just on a whole another level and I ended up winning the MVP award.
A few guys have come up with their all-time starting 5 recently, would you be happy to list off your all time starting 5?
That’s too hard, man! That’s way too hard, because I’ll forget some people on the list, but, Michael Jordan was my favourite.
Somebody else asked who would you rate as the top 5 point guards in the league?
Top 5? Man, that’s still too hard, way too hard – that’s too hard!
Is there any guys in the league you still look up to now, or is it more like you’re competing against them so…
I don’t look up to nobody now I’m in the league! Probably in college, but it’s different when you’re actually watching a guy on TV then next year you have to play against that guy; you can’t be scared, you can’t go out there shaking his hand or wanting to be his friend and trying to play against him. It don’t add up, especially with you being competitive, him being competitive, you’re just trying to find that edge on that person and who knows, that edge could be you shaking his hand and for the rest of your career he know that he got you because of that handshake. So I don’t, no (shakes head).
Who do you think is the toughest guy to guard in the league?
I think the toughest guy to guard is LeBron. You already know! (laughs). The way he plays, he’s like a big point guard out there, blocking shots, he’s usually the most agressive guy when he steps out there on the court.
Do you ever stop and look at where you’re at now, from where you’ve come from to where you are now, and think it’s just mad? Endorsements, touring the world, playing in the NBA.
I’m appreciative of everything, trust me. I thank god every day just for my life, thats why I try to just share it with the youth, give them the hope that they can go out there and do whatever thye want to do if they really believe in it and take the time now to really work hard at their craft they can be anywhere in the world.
What do you see yourself doing after basketball?
After basketball (pauses)…after basketball (pauses)…wow. I’ma tell you my goal; my goal is to be a billionaire, so hopefully after basketball I’ll be the CEO of some company or something.
Derrick Rose is an adidas ambassador and wears the adizero Rose 3.5 for next level speed and support. Find out more at adidas.com and join the conversation @adidasUK
Special thanks to adidas, the NBA, and NBAE/Getty Images for the photos.