Rose to defend Skills Challenge title at All-Star weekend
By Adam Fluck
January 6, 2010
Derrick Rose confirmed on Wednesday that he will take the court to defend his Taco Bell Skills Challenge title in Dallas next month during NBA All-Star weekend.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Rose from the Berto Center. “Last year, it was a great experience being there with my family. Just having the opportunity to be around the All-Stars; I can’t lie, it was fun. I appreciated that opportunity because it was so unbelievable.”
Last February, the Bulls guard became the first rookie to win the Skills Challenge when he defeated New Jersey's Devin Harris in the championship round. Tony Parker and Mo Williams were the other participants. Past winners of the Skills Challenge include Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade (back-to-back) and Steve Nash.
Though Rose acknowledges winning the Skills Challenge is up there among his list of accomplishments, he said it wouldn’t compare to making the All-Star team.
“It would mean a lot, knowing that my hard work paid off to the point I get the chance to play in that game with some of the greatest players in the world,” said Rose. “If it does happen in only my second year, I just hope I don’t get spoiled by it.”
As of Dec. 31, Rose ranked sixth among Eastern Conference guards with 344,435. Ahead of him were Dwyane Wade (1,539,968 votes), Allen Iverson (806,749), Vince Carter (651,134), Ray Allen (452,708) and Gilbert Arenas (407,581).
Updated results for the Eastern and Western Conferences will be issued regularly leading up to the announcement of the All-Star starters on Jan. 21. Following the completion of fan voting and the starting line-up announcement, the head coaches in each conference will vote to determine the remaining All-Stars in their respective conference, which will be announced Jan. 28.
The 2010 NBA All-Star Game, which will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio in the U.S., will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, before an expected crowd of more than 80,000 – the largest group ever to witness a live basketball game, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010.
The way Rose has been playing as of late, he may get that chance. Prior to Tuesday’s loss at Charlotte, he averaged 24.4 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.6 rpg and shot 47.9 percent from the field over an eight-game stretch as the Bulls went 5-3. On Wednesday, he credited his aggressiveness as a big part of his recent success and spoke about how he’s developed upon entering the league.
“I’m way more comfortable with the system and NBA game,” said Rose. “It’s fast, but it seems like it’s starting to slow down for me. I guess the more years you play, the more it does slow down. The way games have slowed down for me now, I can’t wait until the future when I’ve really got a feel. Last year I felt like I was a little lost at times and this year I’ve still got a ways to go, but I am making progress. It helps my confidence, especially when we’re winning.”
Rose also said that the recent speculation in the media about Head Coach Vinny Del Negro’s job security didn’t affect the team.
“The craziest thing about it is that we didn’t even talk about it,” said Rose. “We just came to practice and put our work in. We know it’s up to the people in the front office to make that decision. We can’t make it, but we will live or die with it. Our job is to come in here and give it our all and win for the organization.”
As for the second half of the season, the goal for Rose and the Bulls is clear—playoffs or bust.
“We have it make it,” he said. “We’ll take it as a loss if we don’t get to the playoffs this year.”