I caught up with Bulls guard Derrick Rose at practices with Team USA as the squad prepares for the World Championships in Turkey this September.
Q: What have you been up to this summer since the last time we talked to you a couple months ago?
DR: A lot. I've just been working on my game. Hopefully, you see it. I've just been working on my shot, getting everything better and it's coming along.
Q: You and [assistant coach] Randy Brown are always working on your long-distance game after practice, but do you feel as confident as you ever have that you can start of the season draining 3s?
DR: I think that I can. The way that I've been shooting the ball lately, it's pretty good. I've got a lot more confidence and that's all you need and hopefully they drop.
Q: Is your long-range shot the one thing you've focused on most this summer?
DR: Definitely. Just working on my shot. I know that if I extend that, I'll be a tough player to guard in the NBA and it will open other people up.
Q: Free agency is obviously still going on -- what do you think of the moves that you guys have made up to this point?
DR: I think we made the right moves. We got [Carlos] Boozer for the half-court game in the playoffs. The fast paced game is not always going to be on your side, so we got somebody we can throw it to in the post. With [Ronnie] Brewer and with [Kyle] Korver, [they are] just guys that like running, shooting, athletic slashers and C.J. Watson who just signed, he's a guy who can run the one and the two. And he's the type of player where he's smart. I hear he's a good guy and we need him.
Q: Are you looking forward to working the pick-and-roll with Boozer all season long. Have you talked to him about it?
DR: (Laughs) I wouldn't say all season long, but as long as they want me to I'm going to do it.
Q: Let's set the record straight now: Did you talk to LeBron at all over the course of the last couple months?
DR: I texted him. I texted him a little bit, but didn't really do any recruiting. I really didn't know what was going on. I think he didn't know what was going on until the end. [James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh] were just having fun being recruited and they're the type of people that like it.
Q: Do you regret that at all not going out more and calling him and putting more of a recruiting pitch together for him? Do you care how that is perceived?
DR: I wouldn't say that. If anyone knows me, especially in my hometown, they know that I don't like being in the public like that or getting all the attention like that. To me I think it was a no-brainer, so he made the decision.
Q: A no-brainer for him to come to Chicago?
Q: Were you surprised he didn't come to Chicago?
DR: Yeah, but the season must continue. It's just going to be fun. The [Eastern Conference] is just going to be fun this year, but it's going to be tough.
Q: Did you talk to Wade or Bosh at all?
DR: I talked to Bosh, I didn't talk to Wade.
Q: When you talked to Bosh did you get the sense that he was coming to Chicago?
DR: A little bit. A little bit, then he went to Miami, so it must have been something else.
Q: I know how competitive you are, how much are you now looking forward to facing the Heat?
DR: I can't wait. Great players playing great games, show up in great games. For a game, for them to all be on that team it's going to be ... every time they play somebody's going to be chasing them.
Q: There was so much made of free agency, is there a part of you now that's even more comfortable and confident knowing that this is now your team for as long as you play in Chicago, especially since another big name didn't come in?
DR: I wouldn't say that. It makes me feel a little bit better that they really believe in me and have trust in me about decisions that they make. It just means a lot man. A little guy coming from the southside of Chicago got his own team. It shows that just hard work and dedication really pays off.
Q: Do you feel at all like you've taken that mantle over for Michael now?
DR: Noooo. (Laughs) I'm not even near him, not in the same shoes as him, not even close to him. Not even be mentioned with his name. Not yet. Until I win a couple of championships, so until that day, that's when you could even mention my name with his.
Q: In terms of being the face of the Chicago Bulls though, you know that's you now going forward ...
DR: Yeah, I know that. It should be a good thing. It's something I'm not scared of. That's why you play the game.
Q: Did you see the comments he made at the golf tournament on Sunday about how he wouldn't have called up Magic [Johnson] and Larry [Bird] about playing on the same team?
DR: (Shakes head) Honestly? Are you for real?
Q: (Explains story) In other words, do you want to be the guy on your team?
DR: Yeah, why wouldn't I want to be. That's the point of playing the game. That's the greatest thing right now. I came to a team where they didn't make the playoffs, not for a couple of years. No one was really interested in the Bulls like that in Chicago, not like [it was]. And I'm making it back exciting. I'm from Chicago, it would mean a lot if I would just bring back one championship there. Or even get past the first round, the city would go crazy. So for me to even bring that team back to like the old days, it would mean so much to this city.
Q: Is there an amount of personal pride that goes into that since, like you said, you are a Chicago kid?
DR: Yeah, I want to be that guy. I want to be that guy that does that.
Q: In other words, you don't want to be mentioned with Jordan, but you want to fill his shoes?
DR: Yeah, I want to be that guy. I want to be the reason why the Bulls are back to what they were 10, 12 years ago or something like that.
Q: What has your brief experience with coach [Tom] Thibodeau been like up to this point?
DR: He's been good with me. He's a guy who's a workaholic, staying in the office all day. I'll go shoot in the morning, he's always in the office all the way 'til 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock at night and he knows his stuff.
Q: Have you guys already had a couple late-night film sessions?
DR: (Laughs) Nah, it wasn't anything like that, but he called me at a decent hour and it was fine.