September 14, 2009

Hard to top a debut like the one Derrick Rose had. The first overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Rose quietly racked up the accolades -- Rookie of the Year, First Team All-Rookie -- while (though he may tell you otherwise) serving as commander-in-chief of the Chicago Bulls. After a year spent away from his South Side hometown to play at Memphis, Rose's return, and ensuing feats, was enough to challenge even President Barack Obama's celebrity in the Windy City.

With training camps about two weeks away, Rose found some spare time recently to whoop a video-game-challenged producer in a round of NBA 2K10 and to speak about his first year in the pros, the Bulls' memorable seven-game playoff loss to the Celtics and, as the spokesman for 2K Sports' latest virtual hoops game, his love of video games. Do you feel any pressure by playing for your hometown team?

Derrick Rose: A little, but as a player, you want pressure. If you don't have pressure, there's no point in you playing. I want pressure when I'm playing. It makes me perform a little bit better. How was your adjustment to the NBA?

DR: It was kind of hard at first. There's so much stuff that you have to learn. As a point guard, you have to run the team, call the right play sets, play in the right defense, learn the pick-and-roll, learn how to defend the pick-and-roll. It's just everything about the game is a little bit faster than any other game I've ever played. Was there someone in the league -- with the Bulls or elsewhere -- who you turned to for advice?

DR: It was with the Bulls. A couple of the guys on the team. I'm the youngest on the team, so I look at them as my older brothers; [guys like] like Kirk Hinrich, Lindsey Hunter and Brad Miller -- they have way more experience than I have, so if I need anything, I'll hit one of them up or call my coach. Who was the toughest player for you to play against?

DR: Everybody. Everybody's totally different every night, they have totally different styles than the guys you play against the previous night. What was it like in the playoffs when you were looked as the leader of the team, though you were the youngest?

DR: Toward the end of the playoffs, I don't want to say they looked to me as a leader, but I was the one who started everything. If I didn't come out aggressive, we would tend to fall, or lose a lead or start of sluggish. So for us to win, I had to start out a little more aggressive than everyone else. Much was made in the media about your duel with Rajon Rondo. What did you take from your matchup?

DR: It was fun. We're both young, but he's a veteran -- he's been in the league two or three years -- so me playing against him, it was fun. He's fast, a good player and he runs his team. What did you learn from the series with the Celtics?

DR: In the playoffs, every possession counts. You can't mess around, you can't make dumb mistakes. Every possession counts. Losing the ball, making bad decisions, taking poor shots -- that can really end a series for you. Off the floor your skills as a virtual player have been recognized with becoming the spokesperson for NBA 2K10. Are you a big gamer?

DR: I love playing games. I probably play 30 minutes up to an hour a day. Do you always play as yourself?

DR: No, I play with the Lakers, to tell you the truth. They got a better all-around team -- they got shot-blockers, great scorers, shooters. Whatever you need, they got. What's the best part of NBA 2K10?

DR: It's real. The game is real. From play calling -- they have NBA sets -- the way people shoot, people diving, the way they lay the ball up, the way they pass, dunk, they got the trades right -- they got everything about the real NBA game in it. You can't even compare it to other games. Back to the real NBA, how was it playing under coach Vinny Del Negro, who was in his first year as an NBA coach, after playing under John Calipari, a long-time veteran?

DR: Vinny, he's a good coach. He's a little like coach Cal, but Cal's a bit more strict, he'll yell a little more But Vinny's more soft-spoken. He'll yell at your or get into to you sometimes, but he's a good coach. While you helped lead the Tigers to the NCAA title game, some controversy has surrounded your time at Memphis. Looking back on it now, would you like to take back your time in college?

DR: No, I wouldn't.

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