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Derrick Rose is embracing role as NBA vet: ‘You’ve got to adapt’

Ten seasons ago, Rose was the league’s MVP. Now, a new generation of point guards is keeping him going.

DETROIT – Motown’s highest draft pick in a decade was turning heads during his first group practice inside the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center on Sunday.

Seventh overall pick Killian Hayes ran point and blocked four shots with Pistons head coach Dwane Casey experimenting with him as the lead floor general.

But after practice concluded, Hayes got schooled. Derrick Rose, the one-time NBA MVP, had a few pointers for the 19-year-old.

“I’m a rookie. I’m new to this league. He’s been around, he know how things go, so I’m always asking questions about it,” Hayes said. “Like at the end of practice, we still talk about the game and everything, so it’s definitely great having a guy like D-Rose helping me.”

Ten seasons ago, a 22-year-old Rose became the youngest MVP in league history. Now 32, Rose is entering a new stage in his career as a basketball mentor.

“It’s been great,” Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart said of Rose’s presence on the team. “Just another guy who I’ve been talking a lot to. Picking his brain as well, asking him questions. … He has a lot of knowledge.”

Rose has experienced many highs and lows throughout his 12-year career. His meteoric rise for his hometown Chicago Bulls made him a household name. His jaw-dropping moves inspired a younger generation. But multiple injuries and personal issues derailed his career, including a civil lawsuit that accused Rose and two friends of raping Rose’s ex-girlfriend in 2013. In October 2016, a federal jury in Los Angeles found Rose and his friends not liable.

Over the past nine seasons, Rose has played on five teams (the Bulls, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Pistons) for a total of 356 games. In comparison, he played 240 out of a possible 246 games in the first three years of his career, while winning MVP his third year.

Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, with mother Brenda, accepts the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player Award at the Marriott Lincolnshire in Lincolonshire, Illinois, on May 3, 2011.

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

“People hit me with that label of being the biggest what-if. Like, what? I look at that totally different. I look at that vice versa. Like totally different,” Rose told The Undefeated. “If I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have scratched who I am right now. I would’ve been so brainwashed.

“It’s nothing wrong with chasing your dream, and I’m not trying to hate or nothing like that, but for myself, I had to figure out who I was and my path was hard, my path was pain, but everybody’s is different and I was able to get through that.”

Rose said he spent his time during the pandemic between Michigan and Illinois with family. While workouts were frequent, he also read books, played chess and spent time meditating.

“Just trying to elevate,” he explained. “It gave me a transparent way to see everything.”

“People hit me with that label of being the biggest what-if. Like, what? I look at that totally different.”

Rose has said he’s come to the realization over the years that the same Chi-Town grittiness that helped him become a hardwood superstar also caused childhood trauma from living in a tough neighborhood. He likens his younger years to Hall of Fame boxer Mike Tyson, who came out of the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history at 20 years old in 1986.

“When you’re from an environment like that, people don’t train you to go to school like that. I guarantee you he wasn’t trained to go to school,” Rose said. “In other houses, they’re training you for that, like I’m doing my son now, I’m training him to be a student. Like, he’s trained to actually go to school. I grew up kind of different. Mike grew up kind of different. We weren’t trained to go to school, like, we were training in something else. And, people label you as this individual and that’s not what it is. It’s just that we’re trying to get out this situation and it’s the only way out. You don’t see what we’re on right now.”

Rose continued: “But at the same time, you do lose what you don’t actually get in school as far as schooling and education and learning how to be an intellect … all that type of stuff. And even being social. I’m an introvert. I didn’t know what that was until I was like 22. Like 20-something … I’m wondering why I don’t have any energy being in all these rooms or even being public, going back to the room and it’s draining you while feeling all that. But being older, and understanding that it’s a term, like, ‘Oh, OK, I didn’t know that.’ Just learning all that is a blessing.”

Rose says his “happiness” was restored last season in Detroit, where he shot a career-best 49% from the field while averaging 18.1 points in 50 games, mostly off the bench.

Casey still plans to use Rose in that role this season, describing him as Detroit’s “weapon.” The longtime coach is also looking forward to seeing the veteran guard passing on his knowledge to Hayes.

“[Hayes] has one of the best teachers in the history of the game in Derrick Rose, which is a good thing for him,” Casey said.

Rose, meanwhile, is humbled by his longevity in the game. During the NBA bubble, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray wore a retro model of his first signature Adidas shoe. And, on Dec. 5, Adidas released his 11th signature sneaker, the D Rose 11, which makes him the eighth player in league history to have more than 10 signature shoes with the same brand. He’s also one of five active players who have achieved that milestone, alongside LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul.

Adidas released Derrick Rose’s 11th signature sneaker, the D Rose 11 on Dec. 5th.

It’s the respect of his peers and a new generation of guards that continue to push him.

“You’ve got to adapt. That’s why I always throw Kobe [Bryant] in it,” Rose said. “He always adapted. He looked at what the game and what the kids were doing. Like, ‘Oh, y’all are Euroing now? All right, let me gone ahead and add that Euro to my game.’ He didn’t change his game totally, but he took the little pieces that they added to the game and that’s how he was able to withstand all them years.

“I’m trying to do the same thing. I watch the shorties, I watch their workouts. I watch all that just to see what’s new.”

Eric Woodyard is an NBA reporter for ESPN. A native of Flint, Michigan, Woodyard is a disciple of the Michigan State “Flintstones” – Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell and Antonio Smith – proudly representing 810.