With media credentials for the Chicago Bulls, I was able to attend the highly anticipated first regular season matchup with John Wall of the Washington Wizards. Both team's point guards played for coach John Calipari, Rose with Memphis and Wall with Kentucky.
That is not where the similarities end. Both are point guards, and both were the first pick in the NBA draft in their respective years. That in itself is highly unusual as big men are usually the preference for teams picking in that slot, but not too many players have the skill sets of a Derrick Rose or a John Wall.
Walking into the Bulls' locker-room after a hard-fought 103-96 victory over the Wizards, I saw Rose besieged by media hovering over every word coming out of the star's mouth.
Rose bested Wall in their first meeting that counted, outscoring him 24-16 and handing out eight assists to Wall's six.
Watching the game from the press box area in the highest reaches of the United Center, I had a great perspective of the speed of both of these players. When Rose and Wall had the ball, it was on a different level than when they were out of the game.
That leads to the first question I heard Rose answer after the throng thinned out and I was able to get a face-to-face with the superstar.
When asked by another reporter how he would compare the speed of the two, Rose modestly answered, "He's faster and he's younger, so I'm going with Wall."
Watching from my perch, I would tend to disagree, as I thought Rose seemed a little bit quicker than Wall in bursts, but they're both like roadrunners, so why quibble?
At that point, I got into my pet peeve, which is the lack of respect Rose gets from NBA officials. As of Wednesday, with the top 20 scorers in the league, Rose had the third-fewest free-throw attempts, despite being a player that drives to the basket as much as anyone.
I started with that question after hearing him answer a previous question about his lack of free-throw opportunities.
You mentioned you haven't received a lot of foul calls when driving to the basket. You played with Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City on the USA team in the World Games. You have taken more shots than him, yet he had 37 more free-throw attempts than you before today's game. (Rose chuckled when I mentioned that.)
Derrick Rose: There's nothing that I can do. I'm going to the hole, trying to get fouls, throwing myself into people. I don't know what to do.
I asked you in your rookie year during the exhibition season that you were driving to the basket and not getting the calls. Your whole rookie year, you never shot 10 foul shots in one game. John Wall shot 10 in his second game and 14 in his third. This is your third year in the league and people are starting to think of you as a superstar. When are you going to get respect from the referees?
DR: During this game, I asked him (the referee) about a play and he said I was going too fast and he couldn't call it. I said you're the ref. It's kind of funny.
What did he mean by you were going too fast?
DR: That the play happened too quick for him to blow the whistle. I don't know what that's about, but hopefully I'll get more of them this year.
Are you starting to get more vocal with the refs and saying I'm getting hit here?
DR: Definitely. I'm trying to get as many calls as I can get.
Does the coach have any tips for you and is he trying to help you out?
DR: Everybody is. We're fighting for it and hopefully that day will come.
You're averaging over 23 points a game and if you were getting the calls and going to the foul line, you would be scoring more points and helping the team more too.
DR: Definitely. Anything to get people in foul trouble and put people on their heels, and me just being aggressive throughout the whole game.
Are you happy with the way the team is coming together so far?
DR: Yeah, we're gelling a little bit better right now. We're moving the ball and passing the ball good, but we still have to keep our turnovers down.
Can you imagine how much better you're going to be when Carlos Boozer comes back?
DR: Only time will tell. He's a player you have to double-team. So anybody you are forced to double-team, it can definitely help any team.
That was my interview with Rose, getting into the head of one of the best young players in the league.
What do you think about it? Are there any questions you would like me to ask him in the future? I should be at another game in December when the Bulls come back from their dreaded circus trip.
Feel free to let me know, and don't forget, I'm not afraid to ask the tough questions, so put them out there.
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