It seemed like clockwork.
Every year while her son, Derrick, was in grade school in Chicago, Brenda Rose would get a phone call from one of his teachers. It wasn’t that Derrick had any disciplinary problems. And it wasn’t because he was struggling academically.
“My teachers would almost hate me because I rarely talked or asked questions,’’ said Rose, the Chicago Bulls’ gifted young point guard. “So they would call my mother and talk to her about that.
“They never said anything about my grades; I usually got good grades. They were wondering why I stayed to myself and didn’t talk much.’’
Now, at the age of 21, Rose is pretty much the same person. He is still rather introverted and, if he had his druthers, wouldn’t spend a lot of time conversing.
Some observers have misinterpreted Rose’s aloofness as arrogance. Nothing could be further from the truth, Rose said.
“I am shy,’’ Rose said. “I always have been. I like to stick to myself. I don’t know why I’m like that, but that’s just the way I am.
“I could probably go without talking all day. I know there are guys (in the NBA) that are always talking, that are always active. I’m not like that.’’
Rose is a man of few words on the basketball court as well. Trash-talking isn’t a part of his game. He lets his game do the talking.
Last season, as a rookie, Rose’s exquisite game spoke volumes. He more lived up to the immense hype that was heaped on him after being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2008 NBA draft. Rose averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 assists en route to Rookie of the Year honors.
More importantly, Rose was highly instrumental in the Bulls advancing to the Eastern Conference playoffs where, against the Celtics in the opening round, he was simply spectacular. Rose seemingly did everything in that electrifying seven-game series, averaging 19.7 points, 6.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds.
It was the type of prime-time performance most players would talk about for the rest of the summer. Rose isn’t like most players. His Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs. Their season had, in Rose’s humble opinion, ended prematurely.
It wasn’t the way Rose was accustomed to having his basketball seasons end. After all, throughout his entire athletic career, he’s been a winner. He won championships in grade school. He won two Illinois Class AA state championships at Simeon High School. In his one season at Memphis, the Tigers advanced to the NCAA title game.
So, when the Bulls failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs last season, a bitter taste formed in his mouth.
“It was definitely tough, really tough,’’ Rose said. “I wasn’t used to losing; I’ve been used to being in the championship and then not to be in it was …
“But I came to realize we still need a couple of more pieces for our team to be an NBA-championship caliber team.’’
Rose isn’t about to boldly predict the current Bulls are title bound, but he firmly believes they are on the right track to becoming a title contender. Winning an NBA title, Rose said, is almost an obsession with him.
“Most definitely, I want to win an NBA championship,’’ Rose said. “People remember you first as a person, whether you were a good person.’’
“Then, as a player, people remember you for whether you won a championship. I want to be remembered as good person and someone who won an NBA championship.’’
Rose could also be remembered as one of the premier point guards Dr. Naismith’s game has ever witnessed. Lindsey Hunter, Rose’s veteran teammate, contends Rose possesses all the necessary ingredients to be a special player.
“Derrick has the potential to be ‘The Guy’ when you talk about point guards,’’ said Hunter, now in his 17th NBA season. “He has the size, he has the agility, he has the playmaking abilities.
“And he has that ‘It’ factor, just like LeBron has the ‘It’ factor.’’
Rose hasn’t exhibited “It’’ as much as he’s wanted to this season. But there’s a viable reason for that. During a preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, Rose pulled a tendon in his right ankle.
Rose conceded the injury was “very painful’’ and that’s he’s still not 100 percent healthy. Yet, in recent games, Rose is starting to flash the form he displayed in last year’s playoffs.
In six of the Bulls’ last seven games, Rose has scored at least 19 points. He totaled 28 against Denver.
Naturally, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is delighted Rose is almost back to being his old self.
“He’s starting to get his leg under him again,’’ Del Negro said. “That explosion is back a little bit. Those are encouraging signs.’’
Del Negro knows as well as anyone how important Rose is to the Bulls’ fortunes, although he doesn’t want to place any undue expectations on him.
“People tend to forget that Derrick’s 21 years old,’’ Del Negro said. “He’s still a very young player. People don’t tend to be patient, especially in pro sports. It takes time, especially at the point guard position.
“But Derrick is a competitor; he wants to everything right. And he wants to win.’’
Without having to say a word.