LAS VEGAS – As Cleveland Cavaliers fans continue to deal with the fallout from losing their hometown hero LeBron James, Bulls fans will be happy to know the mind set of Chicago native Derrick Rose on his future.
"I'm never [leaving]," he said, before punctuating that statement a few seconds later. "Never."
The Bulls’ 21-year-old All-Star made that clear during a conversation with me on Wednesday afternoon before Day 2 of Team USA's training camp. The South Side native doesn't want to ever play anywhere besides Chicago.
After all the free-agent ups and downs Bulls fans have endured over the last couple of months, that declaration may be the best thing they've heard all summer.
Here is the rest of my interview with Rose prior to Wednesday's practice:
How are you feeling heading into Day 2?
Derrick Rose: I'm a little sore, but I'm going to try to fight through it. If anything, [I'm] going to go out there and play hard and let them know that it's going to be a challenge.
It was picture day today at camp, what's it like knowing that you're not only one of the best players in the country, but one of the best players in the world?
DR: (Laughs) Don't say that, man. I'm not even near that. Hopefully, one day I will be that person, but right now I'm just trying to learn. It's my third year playing in the NBA. If anything, I'm just trying to get my feet wet a little bit and I guess continue to do good.
Yeah, but you're being too modest. I know you know that you are on the US National team and understand [what that represents] …
DR: Yeah, but I'm a candidate for it. I'm not on it yet. I'm a candidate for it and I'm happy and my family's happy, so it makes me feel good.
[On Tuesday] we talked about you being the face of the Bulls. Do you feel like you can become one of the faces of the US team going forward?
DR: That would be an honor. It would be an honor even to be on the team. But to be a face of the USA team it would mean a lot. A lot of hard work I've been putting in this game. A lot of sacrifice and dedication. It would let me know that I can put my goals up even higher.
Jason Kidd said what you don't want to say right now, which is that you can become the face of this team. Have you gotten a chance to pick his brain a little bit since you've been out here?
DR: Not yet. [We've] been busy. We're busy people. They're busy trying to see which team they're going to put together, and I'm busy working out, enjoying myself, trying to play the game, meeting guys and stuff like that. Hopefully, we'll have to see about that.
What does it mean to have him here, considering he's gone through a lot of the same stuff you'll be going through?
DR: It means a lot, especially for someone like that to even notice you, or even say that they're going to talk to you about the game. He's a guy who's put a lot of years in this league and been successful all the years he's played in the league, so why not look up to him? He's a future Hall of Famer.
I saw Coach K pull you aside a couple times [on Tuesday] and offer you some advice, what has your experience with him been like?
DR: He's a cool coach. He's got a sense of humor and he really knows basketball. He loves basketball to death, and I would love to play for him.
Winning an NBA title in Chicago or winning a gold medal in the Olympics if you were to make the team -- which one would you rather have?
DR: (Laughs) Oh man. Are you serious? At home. I would have to say at home. We've been waiting for it for a long time, and that's something that the city would never forget, and that's my hometown.
How much different is it putting on the US jersey compared to putting on a Bulls jersey, knowing that you are a hometown kid in Chicago?
DR: It's quite different. When you come out here it's not like a home game where you've got family and friends there. You're really out here by yourself, and guys I've been playing with since high school, you're really getting to know each other and playing with each other and jelling to win something … this is a special place to play, [special] team to play for too, and I would love to win a championship for this team too.
You and Kevin Durant are close friends. Is it nice finally being on a team with him as opposed to having to try and guard him?
DR: Oh yeah. We're real cool friends. He's a workoholic. A modest guy, humble, so why not be friends with him?
I know you're not big on recruiting, but have you mentioned to any of these guys that Chicago may be a good fit down the line?
DR: Oh, I told you man, just give me a couple … No, no, no. We're good right now. Forget that. We're straight right now with the team that we have. Probably later on, 10 or something years from now down the line, but right now we're fine the way we are right now.
You're never leaving Chicago, are you?
DR: I'm never [leaving] … never.