Derrick Rose has done it all for his hometown team on the court since being drafted in 2008. Aside from some hampering injuries, the 2011 NBA MVP has been everything the Chicago Bulls could have asked for after the No. 1 pick fell into their laps more than four years ago.
Off the hardwood, Rose keeps to himself, not craving the limelight like fellow superstars in his sport. That's just who he is, and it's worked well for him up to this point. However, with the landscape of the NBA rapidly changing, Rose needs to speak up for the Bulls so that he is not left in the dust.
Currently, Rose plays the role of Batman. He works alone, answers to no one and wins his battles by himself. That approach no longer works in the NBA. In fact, it never did. Even the league's best player, LeBron James, needed to team up Avengers-style to win a ring.
Bulls fans, and probably even Rose himself, know the beloved hero needs a sidekick. How can this happen? Rose may not have much use for his schooling at Memphis, but taking a page out of his former coach John Calapari's book wouldn't hurt.
Despite his low volume of popularity outside of the Bluegrass State, Calapari is easily the best recruiter in college basketball—transforming the game in front of our very eyes. Like it or not, the same type of thing is going on in the NBA right now.
Stars such as Dwyane Wade have been successful in recruiting free agents to help build a dynasty, but sometimes the persuasion begins before season's end.
In a perfect world, players would play out their contracts and then worry about their next destination. But players like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have shown this to be a pipe dream.
There are two things to know about players with expiring contracts: They are already looking for the next option, and they yearn to be wanted.
Just as with the 5-star recruit in high school, NBA players want prospective teams to woo them. In college, that is up to the coaches, but in the NBA, stars recruit other players. Rose's talent may be enough for some, but others' egos crave more attention.
You don't believe this is going on? ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst recently wrote about the recruiting battle between James and Paul for the courtship of sharpshooter Ray Allen. Thanks to some lobbying via Twitter, Allen is now joining the defending champs.
It is too late now for the Bulls to make substantial moves this offseason (and no, Kirk Hinrich does not count), but there is a list of stars who might be looking for a new home next summer. The Bulls 2012-13 season is not lost before it has begun, but an injured Rose (in addition to a lack of aid at shooting guard) has many fans feeling as such.
Rose may not want to hear that, but planning for the future wouldn't hurt. A list of potential 2013 free-agent shooting guards that includes Monte Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin and James Harden should be enough to get his attention.
The Bulls have produced the best record in the Eastern Conference the past two seasons—imagine what they can do with starting shooting guards that aren't like injury-prone Rip Hamilton and offensively challenged Keith Bogans.
Another future free agent who should pique the Bulls' interest is Josh Smith. While his price tag will be high, Smith would make for a good fit in Chicago, especially with the Bulls' reluctance to commit to Luol Deng long term.
The Bulls don't have the cap space now to sign Atlanta's high-flier, but they could with the inevitable amnesty of Carlos Boozer, Chicago's basketball version of Alfonso Soriano.
It is all but certain that the current version of the Bulls has run its course. Rose may want to just play basketball and call it a day, but being a superstar in this league has brought on newfound responsibilities. Rose will remain in the public's eye, whether he likes it or not.
If he wins a championship, he will be among the greats. If not, he could be Skip Bayless' next target. This Bulls squad is nowhere close to competing with Miami for a shot at the title. Maybe that will be enough motivation to pick up the phone during his free time.