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CHICAGO — Derrick Rose became the interrogator in a moment of role reversal.

About an hour before the New York Knicks’ game in his hometown of Chicago, Rose asked a group of reporters surrounding his United locker room.

“Can anyone here name a famous gladiator?” She asked.

The question was asked as part of a thoughtful response to a common sports topic. His head coach, Tom Thibodeau, named him a Hall of Famer moments ago in a pregame press conference. Rose was the leader of the Bulls’ best teams since Michael Jordan’s second retirement. The possibility of the organization retiring one day for himself was the topic of the week as the Knicks play a two-game series in Chicago.

Is the Hall something the former MVP aspires to?

“Who wouldn’t want to make the Hall of Fame someday?” Rose thought. “But there are a couple of ways you can look at it.”

He kept talking but never mentioned Roman history. Or the Coliseum. Or even Russell Crowe. But, in the end, he introduced that question about the gladiators.

Most of the journalists were amazed. We could not find the name of the famous gladiator. Spartacus, for some reason, was not on the tip of anyone’s tongue.

Some rough answers. One person suggested Conan the Barbarian. Rose’s head turned from right to left, scanning the group and waiting for a name.

No response though.

Rose smiled as if she was about to give a creepy thumbs up. Our silence proved his point.

“In 200, 300 years, no one will care what happened,” he said. “For me, the knowledge, wisdom, love, capital that I got from this sport has allowed me a lot and I am very grateful and appreciative for that. What I want to do after basketball, I think is going to be bigger than what I do in basketball.”

But overnight, regardless of what he did inside the arena or not, Rose’s basketball legacy defied convention.

There is a saying that former All-Star point guard Jerry Stackhouse tells of a time when he beat a boy so badly that the next time he saw the man, the boy thanked Stackhouse for beating him because it had helped him. turn the corner of life. This game, with the Knicks coming off a 114-91 win over a Bulls team sinking to the bottom of the conference, felt like an ode to that Stackhouse legend.

The fans erupted as Rose ran past the bench. “MVP!” the chants. began. The Knicks had so decimated the Bulls that the only crowd noises in the second half were either boos or the thump of soles hitting the concrete as gangs ran for the exits early.

Until they saw Rose.

“I know what he means to this city, to the fans, to the Bulls,” Thibodeau said. “And I know how he feels about the Bulls and the city, so it was really nice to see for him.”

This is where Rose built his legacy. It was here that he won Rookie of the Year. There, he became the youngest MVP in league history. It was there that he suffered his first serious injury. And then his second.

It’s the place that people will think of years from now when someone mentions its name.

RJ Barrett remembers it well.

“I grew up watching him,” Barrett said.

When the Knicks traded for Rose two years ago, Barrett reflected on the days when Rose met LeBron James’ Miami Heat. As a teenager, Barrett was a James superfan and knew the inevitability of Rose, who in his prime was as explosive a point guard as anyone who ever picked up a basketball.

It’s not often that an NBA player gets a star shot by someone else.

“I had to send my fans away,” Barrett said. “I went up to him. I said. “Hey man. I’m a huge fan. You know I’m a fan. Nice to meet you.’ Whatever, that’s it. I dropped it from there.”

By the time Rose took the field, Bulls fans were standing and cheering every time he touched the ball. He drained 3 almost immediately. The crowd became even more furious.

In the final few minutes of the game, they jeered the Bulls and worshiped only one unique player on the opposing team, a man who had been Chicago’s last opponent.

“You never know how important it is to how we play when it affects people,” Rose said. “And to come here and see all the love and get all the love that we got, it was unreal.”

Rose’s fiancé, Alena, and the kids shouted from the stands. After the last call, Alena texted him that someone was chopping onions.

At least Rose was able to keep it together.

“I could kind of block it out, but that’s because I’m actually playing,” he said. “I’ve got to get it out of my head before I actually go out and play, but if it was more of a ceremony type thing, I’m sure it would get to me.”

There are good reasons that questions about Rose’s legacy arose before such an emotional moment.

Of course, Rose was back in Chicago for a two-game series against the team he started his career with. But this wasn’t just about where Rose was geographically. It was also about where he is in his career today.

He hadn’t played in five straight games before Friday’s win.

Almost two weeks ago, Thibodeau told Rose, his most prized loyalist, that he wanted to take a look at Myles McBride, the 22-year-old point guard the Knicks drafted in the second round a couple of summers ago. McBride’s spirited defense has fueled a half-dozen straight wins, and New York hasn’t dropped a game since. It is the longest winning streak in the East.

Questions about the Knicks have been scattered throughout this segment.

The biggest surprise these days is how long the hottest team in the Eastern Conference can keep it up.

But with Rose in particular, there’s more to ask, like what’s next?

He is 34 years old. Just a year ago, he was New York’s most important player. But after several ankle surgeries, he fell down the pecking order. He accepted the demotion without argument. His name has come up in trade talks, league sources previously reported The Athletic.

He would like to continue playing. Last season, he said he wanted to “do the Tom Brady thing,” a reference to the popular quarterback who just can’t seem to go away. On Friday, he said he would stay “until I get kicked out.”

“I feel healthy,” he said. “I’m not trying to (take) a young man’s place in the team, but I feel like I’m healthy enough to play. I can still add something to the team.”

And so questions about Rose, like Rose’s Roman history quizzes, remain unanswered.

But no matter what happens, he’ll always have Chicago.

“That’s why I never talk bad about franchise or franchise people,” Rose said. “Because while I was here, it was nothing but love.”

(Photo by Ayo Dosunmu and Derrick Rose by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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