ORLANDO, Fla. -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has always talked about the respect he has for Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, so it came as no surprise that Rose appreciated James’ recent statement that Rose has “evolved” the point guard position.
"That means a lot coming from LeBron," Rose said Sunday afternoon. "Someone that's been in this league a very long time and has played great in this league for a long time. And that's just the way I play. If I elevated it or whatever I did to it, it's because of the way that I play and the confidence I have in myself. When I came in [to the league] and all I was trying to do was just trying to get better and trying to win. I guess it's going my way right now."
During Friday's All-Star media session, James was one of several superstars who discussed Rose's growth. Like many, James is looking forward to playing with Rose during Sunday night's All-Star Game.
"It's amazing, honestly," James said on Friday afternoon. "Derrick has definitely evolved the point guard position. He's doing it; him and Russell [Westbrook] are two guys with speed, athleticism, can score, can pass, can jump, can do everything at the point guard position. I think D-Rose, from end-to-end, is probably one of the fastest, quickest guys that we have with the ball in our game. It's always exciting to get out there with him."
That was also the word Rose used to explain playing with James, the man he's developed a rivalry with over the past few years.
"Exciting, hopefully," Rose said. "Where he's going to have the ball in his hand a majority of the time, I am a majority of the time, too. Hopefully we can get this win."
For Rose, a victory would cap off a weekend that became huge before he even set foot on the floor. On Friday, Rose signed a deal with adidas, reported to be worth more than $200 million dollars, that should keep him in the company's shoe until his career ends.
Rose, who became the youngest MVP in league history last season at age 22, and who has talked in recent years about how he's struggled at times with the adjustment into super-stardom, admitted that all the extra attention that comes his way is easier to handle now.
"It's way more easier," he said. "It's definitely easier. But all this doesn't do anything but make me more hungry. I'm different [because] the reason I work so hard is because I don't want people to forget me. I don't know what it would feel like if I just walked somewhere and people just forgot about me. I don't know how to explain it."
While Rose tried to downplay the fact that other players around the league may be jealous of his accomplishments at such a young age, he did acknowledge that he handles himself and his business differently than some players.
"I wouldn't say [they] ‘look up to me,’" he said of some of his colleagues. "But they can tell that I'm genuine, that I'm myself. I'm not trying to be like anyone else. If you mess with me, it's because you know that I'm just real. Where I don't fake anything. You know that I'm just a quiet person. And a hard-working individual."
Even at 23, Rose understands that those are some of the qualities that set him apart.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "[I] just try to work, man. Where God gave me an ability. I'm never satisfied. I think what's keeping me going is knowing that all this can definitely go away. And I wouldn't know how to feel if I didn't have it."