Derrick Rose awaits Heat challenge
Basketball fans in Chicago aren't the only ones anxiously awaiting the Miami Heat's first game in Chicago this season. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose also is looking forward to the matchup Saturday night.
Just to see where I am as a player. If we go out and do well, I know it's going to boost our confidence. And we're just looking for the challenge.” -- Derrick Rose, on facing the Heat
"Just to see where I am as a player," Rose told ESPNChicago.com. "If we go out and do well, I know it's going to boost our confidence. And we're just looking for the challenge."
Rose isn't looking past the Indiana Pacers on Friday in Indianapolis. He can't afford to as the Bulls have lost their past three road games. But when pressed on his feelings about Saturday's game, Rose didn't hide behind political correctness.
"It's going to be an exciting game," Rose said. "Where it's going to be very fun, very competitive. And I think it's going to be hard."
It's the first time the Bulls will face Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh since courting and missing out on the three free agents during the summer. James, however, injured his left ankle Wednesday and is considered day-to-day.
Rose said earlier this summer that he texted James, hoping he would come to Chicago. Since then, Rose said he hasn't thought about their decision to play in Miami.
"I never thought about it," Rose said. "Ever since the season started I haven't."
The Bulls ultimately signed power forward Carlos Boozer and a host of lower-profile players. It's a group that Rose has clearly gotten comfortable with and has enjoyed getting to know. The Bulls are 25-13 and are tied with the Orlando Magic for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Heat have the second-best record at 30-10.
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"I've just been thinking about this, seeing how can we win, just trying to get people healthy," Rose said. "In the beginning of the year, Boozer was out [with a hand injury], [I was] worrying about that.
"You can't really worry about saying to yourself, 'What happened if [James, Wade or Bosh] were on the team?' At that time, you're like, 'How are we going to win these games?' And that's what we were thinking about."
Rose doesn't expect to speak to James, Wade or Bosh before the game, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
"The challenge of playing them is different because they have three great isolation players," Rose said. "Where they don't need a pick. Either one of them can easily take over a game and go off for 40 points. And you have players on the team that's playing unselfish basketball right now."
Rose isn't surprised that the Heat have faced so much hatred from fans early on this season.
"I think that they knew it was going to be like that," he said. "But they're doing a great job handling it."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.