- Nick Friedell, Chicago Bulls beat reporter
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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose knows there are pundits out there who still doubt how good his team can be. As an All-Star starter and one of the leading candidates for the NBA MVP award, Rose knows that he will have even higher profile when he walks into the Eastern Conference locker room for the first time during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles.
"Teams know other teams in the league who are good," Rose said after shootaround before the Bulls play the Spurs on Thursday night. "You know when other teams are ballin'. Like we know the Spurs are a very good team tonight. And you kind of get that respect around the league, even though with some media we're under the radar as being an OK team even though our record is more than OK. Other players around the league know. That's the fun thing about it."
Rose knows that his team has opened up eyes all over the league this year with their play, and he realizes that while the task of climbing to the top of the Eastern Conference is difficult, it's rewarding to be mentioned alongside the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
"It's definitely hard," he said of keeping up in the East. "It's hard. But we take any challenge. That's why all of us are playing this sport because it's challenging. You want to compete against the best. You're playing against the best every night. And just to be mentioned with them teams, it makes you feel great."
Despite his team's success and his growing prominence as one of the league's elite players though, Rose still doesn't view himself -- at least publicly -- as one of the NBA's best players.
"I wish I was up there, man," he said, while discussing what it means to be mentioned alongside Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. "It's exciting. If anything, I know it's going to be more exciting for my family to be there, and they're going to be more emotional than I am. This is one of the goals I wanted to [accomplish], be in the All-Star Game, not as a starter, but I just wanted to be in the game. To be a starter is something new, and I'm just happy I'm in the game."
Speaking of family, Rose expects to have a large group of family members going with him to Los Angeles, including his three brothers and his mother Brenda.
"There's a lot of people going," he said. "It's a lot. I think I've got like 20-something people going. They're all family though, so there's nothing wrong with that.
Despite the extra attention, Rose is looking forward to being in Los Angeles.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "If anything, it's going to be more media, more than anything. But it's for the fans, it's for excitement. Everybody that comes there, it's for fun. And it's going to be in L.A. I love L.A. So it's going to be a lot of fun out there, especially with my family there."
Derrick Rose will have plenty of family with him for the All-Star Game.