Rose drops the puck at Blackhawks Game 4
The NBA Playoffs might be over for Derrick Rose and the Bulls, but the postseason lives on at the United Center.
On Thursday, the rookie point guard found a way to take part as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime of Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals to even the series at 2-2. Rose was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck, an honor previously enjoyed by some of Chicago’s biggest sports figures, including Bobby Hull, Mike Ditka and Jay Cutler.
“I wish I could play hockey right now,” said Rose, who joined a sellout crowd of 22,685 to take in his first hockey game. “The crowd is so into it; they give you that feeling like you want to go out there and play. During that anthem, that’s about as loud as a crowd can get. Fans in this city are great.”
But has Rose ever actually played?
“No, I’ve never tried… I can barely skate.”
Rose didn’t get to meet many of the Blackhawks players during pregame—he said he wanted to let them focus—but he’s well aware of right wing Patrick Kane, another 20-year old who has been integral to his franchise’s resurgence. Kane was also selected with the first overall pick in the draft when the Blackhawks took him in 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Last summer, Kane received the Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best rookie (teammate Jonathan Toews was second).
Between, Rose, Kane, and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, three of major sports’ reigning rookies of the year play for Chicago teams.
“God must’ve had something to do with that,” said Rose. “We’re all really lucky and hopefully it’s a bright future for all the teams in the city.”
The outlook for the Bulls is certainly a good one after taking the defending champion Boston Celtics to seven games in what many consider the NBA’s best postseason series ever.
“I’m happy we made it as far as we did,” said Rose. “We got to .500 and even though we didn’t get out of the first round, it was good to get there in my first year. Hopefully we’ll get better and better. We know now how much different it is than the regular season. In the playoffs, players are so much more aggressive and everyone plays harder.”
Rose said since last week’s Game 7 he’s been focused on one thing: “Sleeping, just catching up on that. But I went back into the gym on Wednesday with a few friends and will be back in my workout routine soon.”
The Chicago native plans to spend the summer between the Berto Center and Los Angeles, where he spent the majority of last summer preparing for the NBA Draft and his rookie season.
He makes it clear that a goal of his for next year is becoming a better leader: “It’s just something I need to think about and work on this summer. I keep pressing myself to talk a little more and be move vocal. I think I can also lead by example with my work ethic on and off the court. I just want to go out and play hard every night.”
As for Rose’s picks to meet in the NBA Finals? He thinks the Nuggets will give the Lakers all they can handle in the Western Conference.
“The guy I like to watch the most is Chauncey Billups,” he said. “I like what they’re doing in Denver and they’re going to go a long ways.”
In the East, he’s taking Cleveland: “You can’t pick against LeBron.”
At the rate Rose is going, it won’t be long before people say the same about him.