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2005: TO SUN J-A-L-E-N… and his Angels

June 23, 2008

Explaining Jalen.

What’s in a name? Jalen Rose’s naming story is better than most.

"I was blessed with the name Jalen. My mother (Jeanne) was going to
name me James after my father (ex-NBA all-star Jimmy Walker), whose
real name was James, but he wasn’t there to take (her) to the
hospital," said the Raptors guard, who never met his father.

"So her brother (Leonard, short form Len) took her to the hospital and that makes Jalen."

Now, Rose knows of hundreds of people named Jalen and many are listed
on Rose’s website (jalenrose.com) as Jalen’s Angels. Some even have the
middle name Rose.

"I play in front of 20,000 every night and I’ve been doing it for 11
years in the pros, three years in college and four years in high
school," Rose said. "I was actually a pretty good player at all levels,
so I guess a lot of people heard the name and really liked it.

"The thing about it is if you don’t like the person, you obviously
won’t name your child after him. I mean if you love the name, but if
you hate the guy, you’re not going to name your child after him. I
embrace that and I appreciate that and that makes me feel like a role
model."

By Mike Koreen, Toronto Sun
_______________________________________________________________________________
A Rose grows in estimation of Raptors’ fans…
And, he says, name Jalen is catching on

Jan. 24, 2005 — It was the farthest thing from a dramatic victory, a
ho-hum win over a club with a horrible record. But Jalen Rose made it a
moment worth watching.

Bobbing his head to the noisy beat of a fourth-quarter rally in which
he’d score 14 of the Raptors’ 26 points, Rose stood at centre court and
incited a standing ovation yesterday, flapping his arms like a phoenix
risen from the ashes of his December demotion from the starting lineup.
His theatrics inspired many in the crowd of 14,196 to get up from their
seats and holler near the conclusion of Toronto’s 103-92 win over the
expansion Charlotte Bobcats. But he wasn’t done creating a din. Craving
more, Rose grabbed the wrists of the resident mascot and soon had the
stuffed dinosaur furiously flapping its furry arms.

Rose got his crescendo. He even got a laugh from coach Sam Mitchell,
who observed the scene and shook his head and smiled. And with his
recent run of good play – which has come at the same time as a downturn
in the statistical output of the man who replaced him in the first
five, Eric Williams (who is averaging only 6.0 points and 2.9 rebounds
as a Raptor) – you could say he’s got his long-sought revenge.

Yes, the Raptors are enjoying a streak of relative prosperity, winners
in eight of their past 11 games. But it’s hard to laud the Dec. 22
starting lineup switch-up when you consider the Raptors’ recent habit
of bad beginnings. Often anemic off the tipoff, they have held the lead
at the end of the first quarter in only two of their past nine games.
Coming from behind has been their modus operandi. The comeback trend
isn’t likely to last.

But then, stranger things have happened at the Air Canada Centre this
season, perhaps none as stunning as Rose’s emergence as a local folk
hero. Although he has been blasted in the media as an overpaid ball hog
– though he was taken out of the starting lineup because the Raptors’
coaching staff was tired of his defence-as-an-afterthought approach –
Rose checked into the game yesterday and received resounding cheers,
the kind reserved for the likes of Matt Bonner and, in previous
seasons, Jerome Williams and Charles Oakley.

The difference between Rose and those guys, of course, is that Bonner,
Williams and Oakley have reputations as hard-hustling grinders, hockey
players in high cuts. Rose has won his goodwill, it seems, with timely
fourth-quarter shooting and impeccable media manners. He makes big
shots, says the right thing, plays and speaks with a toothy smile.

"I’m not a hermit," Rose said, further explaining his popularity. "I’m
out moving around. I’m shaking hands, kissing babies. I’m out at the
mall. I’m places."

Which places?

"Everywhere," he said. "Everywhere once it gets dark. … And I’m not
the kind of person you can’t see or you can’t touch or you can’t talk
to. I interact with my fans on my website. I interact with them in
person. … Everybody’s got a Jalen in their family."

Rose, indeed, claims to be the namesake of "at least 500" children. His
given name, according to Rose family lore, is an original hybrid of the
names of his father, James, and his mother’s brother, Len. According to
babynames.com, Jalen is Arabic in origin and older than Rose.

"Now every place I go somebody tells me they have a child named Jalen,
a cousin named Jalen, a nephew, a niece, somebody who lives across the
street, somebody who lives across town named Jalen," Rose said. "The
thing about it is, if you don’t like the person, you won’t name your
child after him. You can love the name, but if you hate the guy …"

Mitchell has no choice but to love him of late; Rose, after all, is the
only Raptor with the one-on-one skills to create his own shot in crunch
time. Rose says he was recently inspired to play "with a chip on his
shoulder" by Raptors play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky’s assertion
that trading his hefty contract would qualify GM Rob Babcock as
executive of the year. Still, the swap talk persists, the subject
prospers, the fans lap it up.

"If they want to keep me around, I’ll be here," Rose said. "If they want to ship me out I’ll call U-Haul."

DAVE FESCHUK, SPORTS COLUMNIST

*See the Fan Slam section of this site for list of Jalen’s Angels…