After an excellent high school career at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois, Derrick Rose decided to play his college basketball at the University of Memphis for John Calipari. During a summer training session in 2007, the explosive point guard – who feared he wasn’t good enough to play for Calipari – worked on his game for five hours.
Seeing Rose at the gym, Calipari took a recruit on a tour of Memphis, and when he got back to the gym, the Chicago native was still there. The head coach couldn’t believe what he was seeing, but Rose’s work ethic didn’t stop Calipari from picking on his talented point guard.
In Rose’s documentary, Calipari talked about the day he saw Rose train for five hours. The legendary coach also revealed that his ground general initially called him the devil.
“He’s coming on campus in the summer and I go to the gym and I see him go in and I go in. Absolute sweating, insane, insane. He was in there for about an hour, ”Calipari said. “I’m taking a recruit with me somewhere, come back to campus. He’s still in the gym. He had been in there for five hours. I call him over, ‘Child, what are you doing?’ His friends in Chicago said, “Coach, he thought you were the devil. He called us and said, I’m playing for the devil. ‘”
Rose and Calipari initially didn’t have a good relationship. However, when they were on the same page, they became family and helped Memphis win many games.
Rose averaged 14.9 points and 4.7 assists in his only season in Memphis while shooting 47.7% off the field. He and Calipari led the school to the championship game, where they lost to Kansas. Memphis won 38-2 in 2007-08, and Rose’s superb play made him a lock to be selected by first or second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft.
The Chicago Bulls magically won the draft lottery and had to decide whether to move in Rose or Michael Beasley. They designed the former who was excited to play for his home team.
“This is a dream come true to be a Chicago Bull,” said Rose after the Bulls drafted him. “I’m glad the Bulls picked me.”
Rose won the Rookie of the Year Award 2008-09 with an average of 16.8 points and 6.3 assists. He and Calipari stayed in touch, and the latter had to be delighted to see what his former star was doing in 2010-11.
During the 2010-11 season, Rose averaged 25.0 points and 7.7 assists, leading the Bulls to the NBA’s best record. He won the MVP Award at the age of 22 years and 191 days and became the youngest player in league history to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Michael Jordan and Rose are the only two players in Bulls history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP. The Windy City assassin, who sustained multiple knee injuries after his MVP season, finished his Chicago career with an average of 19.7 points and 6.2 assists.
Even though Calipari Rose only trained for a year, the two have an incredibly strong bond and make regular phone calls.
“To this day, he still says, ‘Coach I love you,'” Calipari said in Rose’s documentary. “Wait a minute, you played for me for a year. He’ll see me, we’ll talk, he’ll hug me and say, ‘Coach, I love you’. Come on, it just shows that he’s deeper than any of that. ”
Rose has rejuvenated his career and is now one of the top bench players in the NBA. He finished third in the sixth Man of the Year election in 2021 and averaged 19.4 points and 5.0 assists in the 2021 playoffs for the New York Knicks.
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