He may not be the next Michael Jordan, but there is no denying that Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose is the biggest sports star in Chicago since MJ.
On the heels of an impressive, albeit short, showing at the NBA All-Star Game (18 minutes, 14 points and three assists) and an announcement from Adidas about a 14-year, $250 million contract, Rose is undoubtedly an international superstar.
What is most impressive about Rose is the way he has done it: being himself.
A constant professional, Rose has improved his game every single year en route to an MVP award last season, returning the Chicago Bulls franchise to the upper echelon of the NBA.
Unlike Jordan, who eventually embraced the role of superstar and put his mug and his likeness on every production imaginable, Rose has been a quiet superstar.
It is almost hard to tell Rose was the MVP last year. Rose is absolutely a top-tier NBA superstar but doesn’t get nearly the same amount of press as a number of his colleagues.
Then again, he’s also far less involved in creating lists of destination teams in his final year of free agency.
Still not the beneficiary of the supposed “superstar calls,” something especially noticed by Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Rose seems to take it all in stride.
Even the All-Star Game introductions last night showed Rose’s true colors.
While superstars like Miami Heat forward LeBron James and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard danced and jumped around, Rose stood stoic, merely opting for a smile and a wave.
You just know that’s me, man. If you would have saw me out there dancing, you would have been looking at me different. I’m just me. I can’t be anybody else. I think that’s what people see.
Not a manufactured superstar, not someone looking to be a crossover star when his NBA career is over, Rose is just a basketball player from Chicago, nothing more, nothing less.
With so many current athletes opening up every aspect of their lives via Twitter, there is something refreshing about the mystery of Rose’s life.
Hardly ever caught via camera phone at a bar, not on Twitter, slightly active on Facebook, Rose is again just a basketball player.
Quite often Rose will be criticized for his questionable entry into the University of Memphis.
Whether you are OK with his method or not, Rose was being Rose.
He never wanted to be a student-athlete. It was not his end game. He was forced by a debatable, unfair NBA rule to attend a school.
Of course I am not justifying his course of action—what he did was wrong and technically illegal—but you have to respect Rose’s commitment to remaining himself.
In the end, Rose’s legacy in Chicago and the NBA will be defined by championships won, but Rose will always be remembered for how he has reached this level of NBA stardom.
He has done it differently from any star before him. Not flashy off the court, not exactly charismatic, Rose is largely a “boring” superstar.
With that said, there is nothing wrong with that. Rose has become a superstar doing it his way, by being Derrick Rose.
Rich Kraetsch is a featured columnist for the Chicago Bulls on Bleacher Report. This column also appears on NoWackness.com. Have any questions or just want to talk Bulls? Follow him on Twitter @richkraetsch