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Bulls' Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are fans of Cam Newton

MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose doesn't follow much football, but when asked recently which team he was picking to win the Super Bowl, the former NBA MVP had his answer.

"I really don't watch football like that but I'm going to go with Cam," Rose told ESPN.com.

That would be Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback, NFL MVP and lightning rod for both praise and criticism for the way he carries himself on and off the field. Even from a distance, Rose can appreciate what Newton has accomplished this season.

"I just love what he's doing," Rose said. "The confidence he's playing with -- it's real."

Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler is a devout Denver Broncos fan, thanks to his friendship with star Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, but he is also a fan of Newton's. Butler appreciates the way Newton tries to have fun on the field, because as Butler says, "You're supposed to."

"Cam is an amazing player," Butler said. "He is who he is. He shows up, he does what he's supposed to do. I like the way he celebrates, that's him. I'm not mad at him for that. He's locked in for his team, he's one of the best quarterbacks in this league. You could say he's the MVP. As long as he's doing what he's doing, he's happy, and he's content with who he is. Do your thing, Cam."

As somebody who has worked his way into being one of the top players in the NBA, Butler appreciates what it took for Newton to achieve his own success -- and the way he's enjoying it.

"He works hard, though," Butler said. "He works hard. It's not a secret when you work hard that success is going to come to you. And he's confident about his game, so he's going to be a hell of a matchup. But my Broncos' defense gets it done."

Like Butler, Rose is happy that Newton has the confidence to play, and celebrate, his game in his own way.

"I think every athlete can appreciate it," Rose said. "But critics and all that comes along with this sport. And no matter what profession you're in, you're always going to get criticized. It's just that we're in a bigger market and it's broadcast everywhere, so there's going to be a little bit more attention, of course, in the sport that you play in. But it's cool to see that he's not worried about it. And [he] shouldn't."