CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose spent some time talking to Kobe Bryant before his last game at the United Center as Rose's 3-year-old son, P.J. looked on from the floor. After Bryant's last game at the United Center, a 126-115 victory by the Bulls over the Los Angeles Lakers, even Rose acknowldeged how special the moment was for him and his family.
"Surreal," Rose said. "Like, come on now."
Bryant also offered some words of wisdom both for the former MVP and the rest of the Bulls.
"I think it's important to remain patient," Bryant said. "I think what you're seeing with this team is an adjustment period. Derrick is at a position in his career where he'll have to adjust his game. And what I mean by that is start using his size a lot more instead of his speed and quickness and start going to the post a little bit more. But they have three tremendous players with Rose and [Jimmy] Butler and Pau [Gasol]. If they can figure out how to defend, I think this team can go very, very deep in the playoffs."
For his part, Rose says he believes his game has evolved in several areas. He doesn't have to worry about scoring as much as he used to. The beauty of Rose's development this season is that after a poor start, he has been attacking the rim more frequently than at any other point.
"I think I'm a little bit more efficient," said Rose, who is averaging 21.6 points in February. "As far as shooting the ball these last couple of games, last couple of weeks. I feel like I'm getting to spots, my spots that I want to get to on the floor, instead of settling."
It's clear the joy has returned to Rose's game. He enjoys playing, he appreciates the time he has with his son before games and he knows how much his game has evolved over time.
He also can appreciate just how much Bryant has meant to the game over his 20 seasons in the NBA.
"He meant a lot, man," Rose said. "He's our Michael Jordan. The way that he's been playing, the way that he dedicated his whole life to a sport. You kind of get envy of it a little bit because it's like damn, all his whole career paid off well: five championships, his resume speaks for itself but the list goes on and he deserves everything that's coming his way."
Forget his 24 points and recent string of good games, the best thing for Rose on Sunday night was the chance he had before the game when he watched his son hang with Bryant.
"He's a blessed little kid, man," Rose said of his son. "I'm kind of jealous a little bit that he got an opportunity to meet [Kobe] at [the age of] 3. And for this big stage and the way that Kobe's leaving. For him to come in and have that, that's a memory that we're always going to cherish. That's a memory that me and his mom is always going to bring up whenever he's growing up and for sure we got to get that image painted and have it in his room somewhere, somewhere in their house."
The smiles came easy for the Bulls on this night given they earned another win in a month full of losses. For Rose, the moment meant even more as he got to share some time with one of the game's all-time greats and have his son by his side as it happened.