Growing up in Englewood and blossoming into NBA superstardom beyond Chicago, Derrick Rose always could count on older brother Reggie to protect him from everything.
So when Reggie Rose does something that potentially harms Derrick, even if only his reputation, the city of broad shoulders does more than shrug. We shake our heads. And wince a little.
That's what happened Thursday after Reggie Rose ripped Bulls management's inactivity at the trade deadline in an ill-timed, illogical rant to ESPNChicago.com. Who's giving Reggie PR advice, Oney Guillen?
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"It's frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him," Reggie Rose told ESPNChicago.com. "What have you pieced together? Have you made any moves? Have you made any trades to get better? You know all roads to the championship lead through Miami. What pieces have you put together for the physical playoffs? … Joakim Noah is a great player. Luol Deng is a great player. But you need more than that.''
Reggie's unexpected, critical comments overshadowed the Bulls' 86-67 loss to the Heat at the United Center and resonated so loudly that Derrick Rose felt compelled to issue a comment before tipoff.
"I have always felt that the Bulls organization's goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city,'' Derrick said.
The Bulls released the succinct, 25-word statement after team officials John Paxson and Gar Forman stopped Derrick in a hallway after a pre-game shootaround and ushered him into a private room. Five minutes later, D-Rose emerged but declined to comment as he breezed past reporters.
Reggie Rose sat in his usual courtside seat behind the west basket and bristled when I approached him during a first-quarter timeout to discuss his inflammatory comments.
"Reggie, do you have anything you want to add to your comments today?'' I asked.
"No comment,'' he answered.
"Do you regret anything you said?''
"What would I regret?''
"That you put Derrick in an uncomfortable spot.''
"That's my brother. That's my brother who you say I put in an uncomfortable spot.''
Reggie's eyes widened and he paused.
"Remember that!'' he said. "No comment.''
With that, Reggie Rose turned away to watch his brother's Bulls teammates he disrespected get blown out by the defending NBA champs. It would be wrong to say Bulls players were distracted. It would be exaggerating to say Paxson or Forman were miffed; Paxson even tried making a joke.
Frustrated or not, both officials stressed what everybody in the Bulls organization suggested: Those comments sound like Reggie but not Derrick, who Paxson said never has complained about the roster. Remember, Derrick was the guy who embraced the status quo enough to lobby publicly to keep Keith Bogans before the 2011-12 season. Keith Bogans.
"Obviously Reggie and Derrick are very close,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It's not a big deal. We all want the same thing. We want Derrick's health and we're trying to pursue winning a championship. Reggie's entitled to his own opinion.''
As difficult as the conversation would be, Derrick has to tell Reggie to keep those strong opinions to himself. They make good copy but bad harmony. They only reinforce the idea that Derrick's growing entourage, including his agency and Adidas, will be more involved in deciding when or if he returns than the Bulls are comfortable.
Derrick Rose is 24 and the CEO of his own $355 million corporation. When an employee goes rogue and reflects poorly on the boss, even if he is family, he must be called on it — and not just by Charles Barkley on TNT.
Nobody who knows Derrick thinks Reggie speaks for him, but not everybody knows Derrick. Reggie stressed that he wasn't speaking for Derrick, but Reggie is Derrick's manager.
No matter how much distance the Bulls quickly put between Reggie's words and Derrick's feelings, somebody still might wonder whether the comments reflect what the two brothers discuss with their guards down. Someone might wonder where the trepidation stems from when Reggie told ESPNChicago.com that Derrick returning isn't "about just making the playoffs, it's about my little brother's career.''
Some things about his little brother's career Reggie might have forgotten.
The Bulls are paying Derrick $95 million to play, if healthy, whether they have a shot of winning it all or qualifying for the lottery. The new collective bargaining agreement saddled the Bulls with more than originally budgeted for Derrick's maximum contract extension, meaning the "Derrick Rose Rule,'' made it harder for his team to sign expensive players Reggie wants. Still, the Bulls will pay the luxury tax for the first time in history.
Yes, the Bulls were quiet at the trade deadline. If only Reggie Rose had stayed that way too.