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    Homecoming king D-Rose still finds time to deliver on a promise

    Dec 27, 2018
    PHOTO: Taha Qureshi
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    CHICAGO - Regarded as perhaps the greatest writer ever, William Shakespeare dazzled the literary world with his ocean deep vocabulary and eloquent command of the English language.

    But if he had a seat at the United Center on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time), Shakespeare would probably struggle to produce a corpus to appropriately capture the drama which unfolded on the night after Christmas.

    It was the ultimate passion play.

    Poignant. Stirring. A triumphant return to glory.

    It was the second homecoming of hometown hero Derrick Rose.

    Unlike his first return last November of 2016, when was dressed as a New Knick and booed heavily by the same fans who had once embraced him as the league's youngest MVP, Derrick's second return - this time as a Timberwolf - was a complete 360.

    Right from the get-go, love was in the air, and after he was introduced as a starter, the sold-out crowd of 21,858 stood in ovation and offered a deafening applause.

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    It was an impromptu celebration of his rebirth as a star. From being cut by the Utah Jazz and out of the NBA just last February. Rose, ten surreal months later, is now the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 18.7 points. 4.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 31 games.

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    With one broken orbital bone and four knee surgeries in his injured past, Rose, 30, is no longer reckless in constantly attacking the hoop. But make no mistake, he can still create a wreck against opposing defenses.

    While still keeping a roaming eye for open teammates, the repackaged Rose now has an arsenal that includes a lethal array of mid-range Js, floaters, and post-up moves. And he is shooting 45.5 percent from long distance, wiping out his previous best of 34 percent in the 2013-14 season.

    It was all on display on Wednesday night at the United Center, his old stomping grounds just 17 minutes and 9.8 miles away from where he grew up in Englewood.

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    Leading the Timberwolves to a 119-94 triumph, Rose finished with 24 points, three rebounds and eight assists. While shooting a free throw at the 5:26 mark of the fourth quarter, chants of MVP!! MVP!! erupted in the arena and the reluctant, perpetually shy superstar offered a grateful smile.

    "This is home for me. I'll never leave Chicago. I still have a place here. I'm always going to have a place here. My son is being raised here," he told reporters.

    The fact that his former Bulls coach and now president of the Timberwolves Tom Thibodeau gave him this second lease on NBA life isn't lost on the loyal Rose. He'll probably re-sign with Minnesota when he becomes a free agent in July 2019.

    But he didn't completely shut down the doors on a possible reunion and told The Chicago Tribune "You never know in the future. My attention right now is with the organization I'm with. This offseason you never know what can happen."

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    Regardless, Thibodeau knows that wherever that next chapter unfolds, it's gonna be a happy ending, telling ESPN that "the big think with Derrick is that I think he is on his way again, and every story has a beginning, middle, and an end. And I think his end is going to be great."


    I believe we can all agree on what Thibs said, including perhaps, Shakespeare himself.

    TRISTAN MEETS HIS IDOL. Having bought 50 tickets - and wishing there were more available - Rose was so busy post-game as he met friends and family who spilled into the hallways leading to the team lockers.

    After a round of media interviews and an hour or so after the game's conclusion, Derrick delivered on his promise to meet Tristan Branstrom, the 12-year old middle schooler from Indiana, whom I featured in a Christmas column two days ago.

    TJ was in a state of suspended animation as he stood next to Rose. His cheeks were blood red, his hands moist with nervousness, and his feet swayed to steady himself.

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    After giving Rose a pack of his favorite candy - Twizzlers, Rose gave TJ a bro hug and I wish I can even begin to describe what joy that young man must have felt.

    On a night when he was the only star, when he had people to see, and millions of things to do, Derrick Rose made sure to take time to make a kid's dream come true.

    Now, that truly is an All-Star.

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    PHOTO: Taha Qureshi
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