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Rose to enjoy All-Star skills and thrills in L.A.

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Derrick Rose is one of four players selected by fans to compete in the skills challenge Saturday, the NBA announced Thursday.

Rose joins fan picks Stephen Curry (Golden State), John Wall (Washington) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City). Chris Paul (New Orleans), who was selected by NBA officials, also will compete in the All-Star Weekend event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Rose won the skills event as a rookie but missed it last year because of injury.

Rose, who will make his first All-Star start Sunday, is looking forward to having a great time in a city he enjoys.

‘‘It’s a fun event,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Of course you want to perform good. But, if anything, it’s something for the fans. You want to excite the fans, make them want to come back to next year’s event. Play hard and have fun — that’s the biggest thing.’’

To add to the enjoyment, Rose will be joined by a big group of family members, including his mother, Brenda, and his three brothers.

‘‘I’ve got like 20-something people going, all family,’’ Rose said. ‘‘It’s going to be fun. And it’s going to be in L.A. I love L.A. So it’s going to be a lot of fun out there, especially with my family there.’’

Sloan and Stroh’s

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a big fan of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

‘‘I have the utmost respect for him,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘To me, he’s the new Jerry Sloan. Every time you play their team, you know what’s coming. He’s had great success. He’s kept it at a high level for a long time, and he’s remained very humble.’’

Popovich’s response was certainly humble.

‘‘I never put myself in Jerry Sloan’s category,’’ said the Air Force Academy graduate, recalling Sloan’s playing days as a hard-nosed Bull. ‘‘He’s a guy that I used to come home on leave from and eat fried mushrooms and drink Stroh’s to, while I watched him beat the [stuffing] out of people on TV. He’s more of an idol to me than anything else. Any statement in that regard is certainly flattering.’’

Road warriors

If it seems like the Bulls have been road warriors lately, that’s because they have been. Thursday’s meeting with San Antonio is one of only three home games this month. They play on the road eight times this month, including three of the next four, and are in a stretch where they’ll play 11 of 14 away from home.

This was the ninth straight road game for the Spurs. They were 6-2 in the first eight games of their rodeo trip. San Antonio had won seven of the last 10 meetings with the Bulls, who blew a 17-point second-quarter lead in their 103-94 loss at San Antonio on Nov. 17.

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