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He’s money: Derrick Rose remains humble despite being $94.8M richer

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Updated: January 23, 2012 11:04AM

It’s not often that an employer pays an employee $94.8 million and considers it a bargain. Considering the NBA spent the lockout-extended offseason reminding us that it is about the money, it’s refreshing to attend a news conference announcing a five-year contract extension that rings more of sincerity than selfishness.

Rarer still is someone giving a 23-year-old kid a fortune without worrying about how it might affect him.

“Not Derrick,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s what makes him so endearing to his teammates. They see a guy willing to work as hard as anybody, play unselfishly, play to win. He’s as happy for his teammates’ success as he is his own. All he cares about is winning. That’s who he is.”

Derrick Rose’s story reads like a fairy tale. He grew up in Englewood, led Simeon to two state championships and took Memphis to an NCAA final before returning to his hometown as the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Since then, he has been named Rookie of the Year and an All-Star before being named MVP last

“If anything, it would’ve changed me by now,” Rose said. “Now, with the salary I’ve got, I’m able to get whatever I want. I don’t spend that much. I’m humble. I take care of others. It has a lot to do with my mom, just making sure I’m talking to her all the time, talking to my brothers all the time. They’re always talking to me, telling me to stay level-headed.”

The Bulls put their money and future in Rose’s hands, a lucrative investment in any economy. The risk seems minimal. He’s already one of the league’s best players and has yet to reach his prime. Nobody, including Rose, knows just how good he can be.

“I don’t think you can put a ceiling on what Derrick can become with his work ethic, drive and determination,” general manager Gar Forman said. “It’s scary to think he’ll get better and better throughout his career.”

Thibodeau said his only regret was that he couldn’t sign his star point guard to an even longer deal.

“What we’ve seen up to now, he embodies all the characteristics you look for in a championship player, and it’s a lot more than the talent,” Thibodeau said. “The talent is the obvious part. Then when you look at his will to win, his basketball IQ, his unselfishness, his humility, those are the things you can build a championship-caliber team around.”

Rose is the franchise player the Bulls have been searching for since Michael Jordan left in 1998. Winning his organization’s seventh NBA title is his only goal. The addition of shooting guard Rip Hamilton makes this potentially the best team he has played on and a legitimate title contender.

“Management did a great job of bringing in guys that just want to win,” Rose said. “They don’t care about their stats. They just want to win games. With Thibs and the coaching staff, they have been doing a great job of pushing us in practice and making sure we’re going hard. We’ve only got one thing in mind, and that’s to win a championship.”

Rose wants to use some of his newfound riches to improve the neighborhood where he grew up. He also said he would like to bring indoor basketball courts and after-school programs to Englewood.

“I never would’ve thought in a million years that I would sign a contract like this, especially coming from the area I’m from,” he said. “No one from Englewood, period, has ever been in my position.”

Rose turned to his mother during Wednesday’s news conference at the Berto Center.

“I can finally say this now, Mom,” Rose said. “We finally made it.”

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