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2006, November 7: USA Today – 6-8 Rose brings flexibility, title aspirations to Suns

June 24, 2008

PHOENIX – Jalen Rose made it to the postseason the last five years –
but not as a player. By completing a deal with the Phoenix Suns
Tuesday, the 33-year-old veteran playmaker is counting on turning in
his microphone and resuming his 12-year chase of an NBA championship.

"I told John Salley (of the Best Damn Sports Show Period, one of five
media outlets Rose has worked for in the playoffs since 2002) my media
thing is over," Rose says. "He’ll have to get out there some and work
next year’s playoffs, because I plan on playing."

The road back to the postseason begins tonight for the 6-8,
multiposition talent as the struggling Suns, his sixth team, try to
reverse a 1-3 start at the San Antonio Spurs.

After the New York Knicks, the worst team in the East last season,
bought out Rose’s $14.5 million contract, the former Michigan star had
a choice between signing with the ring-toting Miami Heat or the
ring-pursuing Suns.

He chose the Suns, largely, he says, because of their run-and-gun style
of play that better fits his playmaking ability and partly because of
the unselfish locker room he sensed covering them during the playoffs
last spring.

"A lot of teams and coaches and players not only admire Phoenix’s style
of play, but try to emulate it," says Rose, who brings career averages
of 14.7 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds to town. "What better way
than to be out here playing with them."

He’ll come off what now looks like a 10-deep bench and can spell anyone
from Shawn Marion at forward to Raja Bell at guard to even Steve Nash
at point guard.

"He can shoot, pass and make plays and post up," says Nash, the NBA’s
reigning two-time MVP who is averaging a league-leading 11.8 assists.
"He gives us a lot of versatility and (coach) Mike (D’Antoni) a lot of
options."

Rose has been reaching for a title since his "Fab Five" Michigan team
fell short in NCAA title games in 1992 and 1993. At Indiana, he got to
the NBA Finals in 2000, but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

He says it’s not about accolades anymore.

"I’ve been getting them since college," Rose says. "Now it’s about
winning a championship. I’m happy to be one of the guys, trying to fit
in, be a veteran, provide some leadership and help this team get over
the top."

The Suns, who reached the Western Conference finals the last two
seasons, were a preseason favorite to win their first NBA title but are
off to a rocky start.

The offense, which has blown 19-, 15- and nine-point leads in the three
losses, has sputtered with Amare Stoudemire (16 minutes a game)
battling back from two knee surgeries. Bell hasn’t shot well (36.6%
from the field, 27.3% from three-point range) and Boris Diaw had zero
assists in the last two losses.

The defense hasn’t shined, either.

"We have to pick it up," says D’Antoni, whose team faces the Dallas
Mavericks at home Thursday. He’s excited about adding another playmaker
to a team of playmakers, but warns, "We can’t think that’s going to
solve all our problems. We’ve got to get everybody clicking."

By Greg Boeck, USA TODAY