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2004: HOOP MAGAZINE: Rose: In Full Bloom

June 23, 2008

scan0001_web.JPGDecember 2004 — Long removed from his days as the brash, skinny leader
of the Fab Five, Jalen Rose has blossomed into one of the League’s
respected elder statesman.

The NBA’S long summer offseason are truly the dog days, where even the
tiniest shred of basketball information is like an oasis in the desert
for hoop thirsty fans everywhere. One such storylet that passes over
the wires this offseason was the donation of $240,000 to the University
of Michigan to create a scholarship in the name of Michigan alum and
Toronto Raptors guard/forward Jalen Rose. Besides being an uncommonly
generous gesture from a pro athlete, the creation of this scholarship
is notable in that it gives insight into a dynamic player and person
who has been a trendsetter on and off the court and who has resided at
the intersection between sport and hip-hop culture for over a decade.

For all the criticism that the hip-hop generation has engendered, Jalen
Rose is a refreshing example of everything that’s good about that
generation. That brash, skinny freshman who led the Fab Five to the
back-to-back Final Fours has grown into one of the most popular pro
athletes around, admired by hoop fans worldwide, recognized as a true
hip-hop head by rappers and DJ’s and unconditionally loved in the inner
city, where Rose No. 5 Bulls jerseys are still a hot jersey even though
he’s now a raptor purple. Rose is also one of the most open, affable
and approachable guys in the NBA, universally respected by current and
former teammates, coaches and team staff. If you watch Jalen closely
during stops in plays, you’ll notice him sharing jokes, slapping five,
giving and receiving pounds and nods of acknowledgement from opposing
coaches and players, statisticians, ball boys, fans and even referees.

Sure, NBA players get a lot of love, some deserved and some just for
the fact that they might be tall, handsome, athletically gifted well
dressed or well paid. The difference with Rose is that he’s learned to
take the attention, accolades and affection he’s received and reflect
it back upon those around him, and those who need it most. By most any
measure, Jalen Rose is one of the most generous American pro athletes
ever, and was recently recognized as such by The Sporting News, who
named him one of the "77 Good Guys in Sports."

How deep is his desire to give back? Let’s put it this way, the joy
he’s given to basketball fans for over 15 years can’t even come close
to the joy he’s created for families and communities in need. The
difference is exponential. Here’s a measure:

* The Jalen Rose Foundation supports community work in each of the
other NBA cities he’s played, in addition to his hometown of Detroit.
In other words just because he left town, his commitment to help the
people in those communities didn’t end. The foundation has a mission to
provide founding for programs that support single-parent families, work
with community kitchens to provide meals for individuals and families
in need and provide support to young people to achieve educational
goals.

* Rose contributes to an educational program dedicated to improving
students’ math skills through a website called mathmastery.org, helped
create the Bulls Reading and Learning Center and actively participates
in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

* The Jalen Rose Endowed Scholarship will be available to a first-year
student with special consideration for students who come from the state
of Michigan and either resides in an inner city area, or are a member
of an underrepresented group. The scholarship will completely cover the
cost of in-state tuition at the University of Michigan, as well as
provide support for additional expenses. It will be renewable for three
additional years, provided the student recipient meets the eligibility
requirements, which include maintaining at least a 3.0 grade-point
average.

Loyalty. The more you lean about Jalen Rose, you see that it’s a theme
that runs through everything he does, and everything he’s about. It’s
only natural, then, that the focus of his community work is on the
places that shaped who he is today: inner-city Detroit and the
University of Michigan.

Hoop: How did the idea for the scholarship come about?

Rose: I always knew when I was at the University of Michigan that they
had a scholarship endowment. I always felt that if I had the
opportunity to do that, I would. Those are the kind of things that
create a legacy and tie me the University of Michigan. I’m just blessed
to be in this position. Education- that’s the best way I can influence,
that’s the best way I can give back and help out.

Hoop: In an interview you did a couple of weeks ago, you talked about
Magic Johnson being not only your on-court ideal, but your off-court
idol, too. Does this scholarship fit into that idea, as well?

Rose: No doubt about it. My off-the-court idols have been Magic Johnson
and Isiah Thomas – the way they handle themselves and their business,
and their generosity. Another one of my idols, my number one influence
as a coach and as a mentor, is Larry Bird. Now tell me, who in the
world can say this: Magic Johnson, I can pick up the phone and call him
and he can give me advice, he’s a mentor, he’s someone I can talk to
about basketball and business. Or Isiah Thomas, someone I looked up to
when I was little, I went to this camp, he sat at my draft table when I
got picked. And a guy like Larry Bird, he’s a team president, he’s been
a coach, he’s been a success in business. I’m blessed to have these
people around me, influencing me. I’m blessed. I’m blessed.

Hoop: As you move along into your career, do you see yourself fulfilling that kind of role for young people?

Rose: That’s exactly the kind of role I want to fulfill. I want to be a
guy who can do what those guys [Magic, Isiah, Bird] have done. Who’s
gonna match what those guys did on the court? No one! [laughing] You do
the best you can and be the best you can, and emulate them off the
court.

For a player who can practically ushered in the new school, Rose’s game
is surprisingly elemental-new-school garb, old-school soul. He doesn’t
"wow" you with strength, speed, quickness, or hops, but he’s certainly
not unathletic. Seeing Jalen up close, he’s not the gangly freshman we
saw in ’92, he’s filled out, and will occasionally get up ands dunk it-
hard- just to remind us that he’s a man now. Rather then rely on his
athletic talent, though, Jalen’s game is a ball control game,
predicated on intelligence, deception, touch, subtlety and shill.
Simple post moves, crafty dribble moves, up-fakes, ball-fakes,
head-and-shoulder fakes, jab-steps, step-backs and crossovers; he’s
adroit at clearing just enough space for his elbow-out lefty jumper
with perfect backspin. Not to overlook his omniscient court awareness
and creative passing, which are rare for a player his size. His career
stats are impressive, and a testament to his versatile game: 14.5 ppg,
3.6 rpg, 4.2 apg. His best season all-around season was probably
’00-01, when he dropped 20.5 ppg, 5 rpg and 6 apg, on par with the best
guards in the League.

And you know he’s clutch. Going back to his double-state-title days at
Southwestern High in Detroit, Jalen has always been cool, clam, and
collected in crunch time. The back-to-back Final Four appearances
collected by the Fab Five came in hard-fought contests, many of which
were decided in the final minutes of the game. As the clock wound down,
it was always Jalen who had the ball in his hands. He’s showed that
same immunity to pressure throughout his pro career, hitting numerous
clutch jumpers and free throws for the late-90’s Pacers team,
especially during the 2000 Finals run, and even dropped in a couple
game-winners for the Raptors last season.

So Jalen is no stranger to end-game pressure, and thrives in the big
moment. In short, he’s a leader who wants responsibility for wins and
losses, and lives for team success. That comes in part from the players
he emulated growing up in Detroit, from up close and from afar.

Hoop: Besides Magic, who were some other players you admired and patterend your games after?

Rose: Steve Smith. I liked him when I was coming up. He was a big
guard, and he had so much game. I was a ball boy when he was in high
school and I was in middle school. I was the ball boy for their team-
Pershing High. I’ll never forget this time I was in seventh grade, and
they went to play an hour and a half away, and I got a chance to ride
in the car with Steve and his father. I remember just sitting there in
the backseat, watching how he acted before the game. We stopped at a
gas station and I watched what he was going to eat before the game. I
remember he bought a pop and a bag of chips, and I was like "You’re
going to eat that before the game?" [laughing]

Hoop: Anyone that no one’s ever heard of? Someone from the gym or playground?

Rose: Honestly, no. I never went to the park of the playground and
there was like an Earl "The Goat" Manigault. The guys that I was
watching and emulating, they made it, too. I’m the only guy in the NBA
who’s got two high school and two college teammates currently palying.
[Ed. Note: Voshon Lenard and Howard Eisley from Southwestern HS, Chris
Webber and Juwan Howard from the UM]. I’ve been on good teams, and that
shows I know how to play with other people and play a little myself.

Hoop: Your time at Michigan and the Fab Five- people look back at the
team as representing a shift in the game, the way it’s played, the way
it’s perceived, the way it’s marketed, everything. It was like a new
blend of basketball and hip-hop. The Fab Five had swagger and style,
but what really threw a lot of people for a loop was that those teams
played great defense, always made the extra pass, were always
unselfish, trying to make your teammate look good.

Rose: People didn’t pay attention to that. They didn’t pay attention to
why we were wining, they paid attention to how we looked winning. A lot
of people were threatened by us, they tried to diminish what we were
accomplishing. They said we were too "ghetto", or that we were too
brash, too cocky, that we talked to much and that there was no room for
that in college ball. Coach [Steve] Fisher used to come to practice and
he’d have 50 negative letters that people had written and he’d say "You
see what guys have me dealing with?" [Laughing] He was letting us know
the platform that we were on. He understood the situation that we were
in, that we were an all-new thing in college basketball. And we
defiantly played the right way- we took pride in it.

Hoop: Coming to your pro career, who have been some of your favorite teammates over the years.

Rose: In Denver when I was a rookie, it was Dikembe Mutombo and
Mahmound Abdul-Rauf. I could be silly with Mutombo, but serious with
Mahmound. When I was in Indiana, it was Reggie Miller, Al Harrington,
Austin Croshere, Travis Best, Dale Davis. In Chicago, Jamal Crawford
and Eddie Robinson. That’s another thing: I got traded to Chicago and I
walked into the locker room and I found two teammates with "Jalen"
tattoos. Rick Brunson, who went to Temple, played against him in
college. And Eddie Robinson, they both got son’s named Jalen. That’s
love right there.

Hoop: In Denver you were teammates with Dale Ellis…

Rose: That’s my guy! I forgot about 3-D.

Hoop: His jumpshot, it was like…

Rose: Like water! Let me give you a Dale Ellis story. When I first came
to the Nuggets, I was just trying to get used to the transition. One
game I might be doing my thing, the next night, it’s like "Jalen,
you’re sitting over there." When Dan Issel left, boom, I was starting
the next game, and Dale was starting at the three. In that game, with
time running down, I pulled up for jumper, and he said "No, young,
fella," And I made it! So they called timeout, and we’re sitting there-
and this is my man, remember- he said "Next time we need a shot to
break the team’s back, you pass it to me." [Laughing] He said, "I’m out
there to shoot, if I ain’t out there to shoot, that means I’m done, and
you ain’t about to make me be done." [Laughing] That’¯s exactly what he
told me and I always respected him for that.

Hoop: We’ll just throw out some players, and give us your opinion of their game. First off, Paul Pierce.

Rose: Efficient. Relentless. He just keep comin’. You know he’s got the
green light, you know how the Celticls best player and you know he’s
gonna shoot it every time he get it, but somehow he always finds a way
to get it off on you. That’s my homeboy. The other thing I think about
him is that he can’t play Madden. [Laughing] But that’s my homeboy.

Hoop: Jason Williams

Rose: He’s got handles. And he can pass. He’s got style, he’s got
flair, he’s got a little Pistol Pete goin’ on. I like him. He’s got
game, I’d pay to watch him play.

Hoop: Next guy: Earl Boykins.

Rose: Earl Boykins, from Eastern Michigan, I’ve been watching him for
years. Earl’s a greatplayer. You know why he has a job? People think
it’s because of his dribbling, his speed or his feet. But that’s not
it: he can shoot. Cold. He can shoot.

Hoop: Andrei Kirilenko.

Rose: AK-47. He reminds me of Drago [the Soviet boxer in Rocky III,
played by actor Dolph Lundgren] from the way he looks [Laughing] But
also for the way he attacks it. He’s all one speed, all one look, all
with a straight face. Hr’ got size, he’s versatile, he can shoot. He’s
one of the only guys that blocked my shot this year.

Hoop: Being a lefty, do you find yourself watching other lefty players closely?

Rose: Yes, I do. And the reason I do that is because we’re a minority.
When I see these guys, it’s like a fraternity, we stick together. There
a few good lefties: Zack Randolph, Michael Redd, Lamar, Van Exel¡­my
teammate Chris Bosh. Chris Mullin was a great lefty shooter that I
played with. Ginobili’s got some game.­

Hoop: Someone recently made an all-time lefty team, and it had Bill
Russell, David Robinson, Willis Reed, GailGoodrich and Lenny Wilkins as
the starting five, and you were a reserve.

Rose: Well, those are Hall-of-Famers, so I’m happy to get a little
mention. That’s OK, I got a few more years to get up in the rankings.

Words by Andrew Bangs