- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The praise LeBron James had for Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose on Friday afternoon came tumbling out of his mouth faster than he usually blows by defenders on the floor. The Heat superstar is looking forward to playing alongside the reigning 23-year-old MVP on Sunday in the 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."
James' teammate, Dwyane Wade, also heaped praise on Rose. He sees a lot of himself in the Bulls' superstar.
"I see a lot of the things I did when I was younger, probably on a little bit more athletic of a level with him," Wade said. "But I do see the things that he does and I'll be like, 'Man, I used to do that.' or 'Man, I've done that before.' But he does it at another notch up than even when I did it. He's so athletic and he's so fast. ... We're going to compete against each other. We're going to play against each other, but from Chicago, in a sense I'm proud to say that we're from the same place. And the person that he is as well. That kid right there, he's going to be a star in this league for many years to come. He's an unbelievable talent."
For his part, Rose didn't sound like a man who has been too happy with his performance this season. He's already missed 10 games this season because of various injuries and does not believe he will repeat as the MVP of the NBA.
"I haven't [done] anything this year yet to be MVP," Rose said. "One guy that's ballin' right now is Kevin Durant. He's ballin' right now. Putting up numbers. Playing great, shooting high percentage. He's ballin'."
When asked whether he thought Rose and the Bulls would be one of the teams who could challenge his Oklahoma City Thunder in a potential NBA Finals matchup later this summer, Durant was noncommittal. Like the rest of the All-Stars, he proclaimed his love for Rose, though.
"You never know, man," Durant said of a Thunder-Bulls matchup. "A lot of people are asking me about if we're making it to the Finals, if we're going to make it far in the playoffs, but you never know. I respect the Bulls. D. Rose is probably my favorite player to watch in the league. Coach Thibodeau is a great coach and you can just hear him on TV yelling and screaming at his guys all the time and I really like that in a coach. Luol Deng is playing phenomenal basketball. Carlos Boozer ... so they've got a lot of weapons. They're going to be tough to beat in the playoffs, whoever they play, and the MVP is having a great year so far."
As for Rose's health, the young point guard said his back was feeling a lot better.
"My back is feeling good," Rose said. "No more pain. Been stretching a lot. Just making sure that I'm always doing something."
Rose admitted that it's been difficult to balance resting his body for the long haul with the opportunity to win games in the short term.
"It's hard," Rose said. "[I'm] wanting to be a leader. But if you want to be a leader, you've got to make sure you're doing all the right things [for] your team if you want someone following you. And I'm making sure that I'm showing up early, making sure that I'm eating right. Trying to lead by example. And that's for my teammates, they follow me. I know that I'm pretty young, but we have a great group of guys that want to win and everybody's sacrificing and dedicating to the team."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.