Pippen: Rose's All-Star status is only the beginning
The Bulls finally have an All-Star again and I couldn't be happier that it is Chicago's own Derrick Rose. It means so much to the city and to the organization to have a young player like that who is a genuine winner. He plays hard every night and he makes his teammates better. You can tell how badly he wants to help raise their level of play because he understands it will contribute to the team's success. Now that Derrick has reached the level of being an All-Star, he isn't going to want to lose any momentum from his upward ascent. He wants to be one of the best players in the game, and that is a very realistic goal for him.
Rose being an All-Star brings a little bit more of a presence and swagger to what is happening with the Bulls. Obviously you have to put the individual accolades aside and the team must win, but he is starting to gain a lot of respect from around the league for his play. He has been tremendous these last six weeks or so and that includes down the stretch in close games.
One of the problems with the Bulls earlier in the season was that they didn't have that one guy who could put the ball in his hands and draw fouls or do whatever it takes to get it done in the final minutes of a game. That player needs the respect of his teammates and even the officials to be in that position, and Derrick has made a lot of strides in moving towards that level. When it's late in a game and things are tough and you need a basket, someone has to step up. That player has to have the ability to create opportunities and draw fouls. Now that Derrick is an All-Star, he's legitimately respected in that sense and capable of being that guy.
Derrick played well on Sunday. I know they wanted to limit his minutes because of his hip injury, but eight points and four assists in your All-Star debut is not too bad. It's also about more than just the game itself. For him to be around all the stars of the game—players like LeBron, D-Wade and Kobe—on the practice floor and at the hotel is great. For a young player like him to experience that so early in his career means a lot. It shows that he does belong among the top-tier of NBA players, even though he only played one year of college and this is just his second year in the league. It's a tremendous sign how far he's come in a very short amount of time and I am sure it only helps his confidence.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to catch up with Derrick over the weekend. But I did see his Mom when I was checking out of my hotel and we got the chance to talk. Hopefully I'll get back to Chicago sometime soon and get an opportunity to talk with him.
Hopeful for Hall of Fame call in April
To be named as one of the finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2010 on Friday was a special moment for me. As a player, it's something that you dream about. It's an honor that you have to earn based on your career and the respect from your peers around you. To be recognized by the committee and in this position couldn't make me any happier.
When something like this happens, it's a very humbling experience. At this point, I really am very humbled. Not only am I proud to be one of the finalists, hopefully I will be one of the inductees when they make the announcement in April during the Final Four. I'm really looking forward to that time, as it would truly be the icing on the cake if it happens. Being in the Hall of Fame is where any player wants to be at the end of his career. It's somewhat of a last step for a player in terms of their career and it's a place where you'll always be remembered for what you accomplished.
One of my good friends and a 14-time NBA All-Star, Karl Malone, is also a finalist and it would be great to go in with him. We had so many battles during the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, and I had an opportunity to play together with Karl on two Dream Teams in the Olympics. I have a huge amount of respect for Karl's game and his career. I hated to not see him win a championship as he and John Stockton were truly deserving of one. Karl and I both took somewhat of a similar path to the NBA—growing up in the south and attending smaller colleges. Somehow we worked our way to the top and it would be an honor to go into the Hall of Fame with him.
Our 1992 Dream Team that won the gold in the Barcelona Olympic Games is also a finalist for Hall of Fame induction. If I'm able to make it in as an individual, this will just be another element for me to enjoy. It would be special to cherish that moment with all of the guys I played with that summer as it was a very unique experience. Without question, that was one of the very best teams I've ever seen assembled. I'm just proud to say that I was a part of it.
Along with Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin—another Hall of Fame finalist—we were honored during the All-Star Game on Sunday and it was great to catch up with those guys and spend time together. Other than that, I took advantage of the weekend and spent a lot of time with my family. We took my kids to the NBA's Jam Session on Saturday and made that a fun time. I also attended a party that evening which that tied in to the NBA's efforts in China as I've made a few trips over there. On Sunday, we went out for brunch and eventually made our way to the game.