Derrick Rose began earning his reputation as an understated, humble basketball star back in high school. He’s carried it with him into college and the NBA.
But there was one opponent who seemed to get under his skin, and it’s someone he may be seeing a lot of very soon: Philadelphia’s Evan Turner, who played at St. Joseph.
The Rose/Turner rivalry heated up this week when Turner was asked about finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference and playing the Bulls instead of the Heat.
“That means we’re dodging the tougher team,” he told the Delaware County Times.
Rose shook off Turner’s comment, but there is little question that the rivalry is for real.
It started, at least publicly, in March of 2007. It was of one of the biggest games of the year, a showdown between Simeon and St. Joseph at Northwestern.
Rose was regarded as the top player in the state. Turner was challenging Rose for player of the year honors.
At halftime, standing near center court, Turner said “Derrick Rose ain’t [crap].”
Not everyone heard it, and it didn’t seem to be directed at anyone in particular, but it was unmistakable.
In the second half, Rose and Turner really went at it, jawing back-and-forth the entire time. Late in the game, Turner scored on a layup and was fouled. Before shooting the free throw, Turner turned around and said something to Rose. An official approached Turner at the line and defused the incident.
Turner scored 29 points, including 20 straight during one stretch, doing his best to back up his bold words. Rose scored 29 as well, and Simeon won 74-66.
After the game, Turner’s quotes raised plenty of eyebrows.
“I was better than Rose,” Turner said. “With me guarding him he didn’t do much. He knows that, and I know that.”
Simeon has a tight media policy, rarely allowing players to speak with the media during the season. Rose and the other Simeon players had not been available after the game.
I texted Turner’s quote to Simeon coach Robert Smith while I wrote the game story. Just as I was finishing up, Smith called and asked me to meet him behind a curtain just outside the locker room.
I hurried over, and waiting behind the curtain was Rose, his older brother Reggie and Smith.
“Read him the quote,” Smith said to me.
I did, and Rose’s response was one of the few times in his high school career where he showed some bravado.
“We both know who is better,” Rose said. “He’s just doing this to get a little bit of publicity. We’ll see who does more on the next level. They called a lot of soft fouls on us when he had the ball. It wasn’t like he did anything that impressive.”
Just a few weeks later, Rose and Simeon beat St. Joseph in the state playoffs, ending Turner’s prep career. It’s a safe bet Turner wouldn’t mind returning the favor in the NBA playoffs.