In the summer of 2014, adidas hosted a group of media in Las Vegas to debut their Boost technology in basketball. On hand was Derrick Rose, in town to promote his latest signature shoe but also to compete for a spot on the Team USA FIBA roster after two injury ridden seasons. A man typically of few words closed our interview with only two:
Despite what doubters say, he was right. Returning to a retooled Bulls roster, the hometown hero and face of the franchise would reassume his regular role as such, now carrying a lighter load on the court thanks to the addition of Pau Gasol and ascent of Jimmy Butler.
The comeback season wouldn’t see individual accolades or a championship, but it would find Rose propelling the Bulls to a playoff push that saw averages of 20, 6 and 5 a night, made most memorable by a game-winning buzzer beater that went viral online and hit hearts back home.
Back home, we caught up with Derrick in Chicago last month to talk about his expectations for the upcoming season, his life off the court, his signature sneaker line and the brand new adidas D Rose 6.
Nice Kicks: Looking back to the start of your career, when do you first remember hearing about or discussing that you’d get a signature shoe?
Derrick Rose: I think it was after my rookie year or second year. It caught me by surprise, because coming into the league you rarely think about having your own signature shoe, you just think about the NBA experience and how you’re going to get through it. I guess I ended up playing well my first couple of years and adidas decided to make a new contract with me and make me a lifetime partner.
At the time, it was cool just thinking about and wondering how your designs are going to look. Being from Chicago, I’m kind of a sneakerhead and gym shoes are almost everything here. The experience was fun creating the first shoe and I’m happy I’m one of the signature guys.
Nice Kicks: When the Rose 1 released at retail, what was it like seeing kids in Chicago wearing your shoe?
Derrick Rose: Not only my shoe, but just to see people in my apparel with my brand always takes me back to that humbling stage of, “Damn, I’ve really got someone who spent money on my design, on my brand.” I’m always grateful for that and I know my family is too.
Nice Kicks: Once becoming a signature athlete, you quickly had a follow up the next season with the Rose 2 and a new model every season since.
Derrick Rose: I loved the 2. At the time, I was trying to put out a shoe that kids could wear on and off the court. In the hood there’s poverty and people don’t have the money to buy two pairs of shoes. I was trying to put in kid’s minds that my shoe was decent enough to wear on and off the court. I also loved the back on the 2 — it was different. The shoe still looks good to this day. I had some great games in this shoe. [Smiles and laughs] I had some buzzer beater shots, game tying shots, just tough fourth quarter performances.
I think the 3 is the most important shoe of my whole collection off the strength of it bringing together everyone in my family. Relating back to Chicago, the city’s basketball culture and family, it was all about a grind. I grinded not only to get a signature shoe but a logo. I’m partners with one of the biggest brands in the world where you have Muhammed Ali and he doesn’t even have a logo and he was on this brand. I’m fortunate and blessed at the same time. I still remember having the event for the 3 in Chicago and my mom came into the room and they had 13 pairs of shoes on the counter for my family members. My mom just started crying because she never knew that something dealing with me could be that big. We ended up having the “Brenda” colorway for her, the colorway for my son and “The Fresh Prince” colorway which I kinda like, too. This was probably my biggest shoe.
Then I love the 4 because I gave them to my AAU team. I try to do little things like that and have little events for people around me that I love to show them that I care about them.
Nice Kicks: Last season you came back with the 5, which saw a way different look.
Derrick Rose: The D Rose 5 was the most fashionable shoe, off the fact that it was simple, plain and the logo stuck out the most. This was the first time adidas didn’t put the Three Stripes on the back of my shoe and replaced it with my logo. That was a huge, huge deal. We had so many meetings to have them take the Three Stripes off and put my logo there. We were just trying to make history there and we did.
photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images via Zimbio
Nice Kicks: How did it feel to play a whole season in Boost?
Derrick Rose: Boost changed the game. It changed my mindset of a basketball shoe. I told them to put Boost in all my shoes from now on. I feel like the comfort level with Boost helps for after the game. Your feet aren’t sore and you feel almost like you’ve got a house shoe on out there. Joakim wears them and Taj wears them, too.
Nice Kicks: Transitioning to the D Rose 6. What was the inspiration behind the new design features?
Derrick Rose: One of the things we thought about was the movie, The Dark Knight. When Batman had his logo in the sky, that’s what we went for with my logo on the back of the 6. It pops out on you, it’s something you wouldn’t normally see on a basketball shoe and it looked fresh. When you put the shoe on it kind of feels like a sock. It’s soft, and on the inside it keeps your shoe from slipping off. Little things like that go a long way in a basketball game. It’s got Boost on it and we put the 6-point star on the front off the Chicago flag. I’m just trying to keep a piece of Chicago in all my shoes and almost everything that I do.
Nice Kicks: Aesthetically, it’s definitely a tougher looking shoe, too.
Derrick Rose: It’s my toughest looking shoe. The 5 was my most detailed shoe. The 6 is more like back to grinding, back to performance. I’ve been practicing in this shoe for damn near six months and I don’t need a new pair yet. The shoe is durable, they feel like a new shoe every time I put them on. It’s tough not being able to wear them till they come out. [Laughs] For big games as a basketball player you want to look good. Get your haircut, have on some nice shoes, but sometimes you have to wait so you don’t mess with the promotion or the release date.
Nice Kicks: How has your relationship with the adidas team grown over the years?
Derrick Rose: It’s dope. We sit there and we talk literally for hours about all my shoes. What I like about them, what I didn’t like about them, and I think that’s important for anyone that has a brand or a signature shoe because you wan’t to put good product out there. Not only good product, but product that’s going to help the youth. It’s all about giving back and helping the kids. I love to see kids that wear my shoe because it seems like they’re fans of me and just fans of the work ethic — just working out everyday and taking basketball serious. I can respect that.
Nice Kicks: We’ve seen adidas team up with Big Sean to build a studio at his old high school, do you have any plans or aspirations to team with the brand on something similar?
Derrick Rose: It’s coming down the line. There’s some things coming in the future. I’ve got some big ideas.
Nice Kicks: I ask you this every time I talk to you, but what music are you listening to these days?
Derrick Rose: Meek Mill, J Cole still, Drake, Future, there’s a lot of people I still listen to. I’ve gotta listen to Meek Mill. He’s changing up his flow, he’s maturing, he’s getting better as a rapper.
Nice Kicks: Last year you debuted a new haircut, what style changes can we expect to see this season?
Derrick Rose: No new haircuts. [Laughs] I grew the fro because when you have waves you’ve got to brush them too much. I was in rehab too long and didn’t have that much time to brush my hair, so I grew it out and just got it lined. Everybody’s doing that now. I don’t know, next year I might change it up. We’ll see.
Nice Kicks: This summer you did some traveling and I heard you just got back from Thailand. What was that trip like?
Derrick Rose: Damn, how’d you hear that! [Laughs] It was alright. Just seeing a new culture and seeing how 63 million people are together as far as being Buddhist over there. It’s pretty cool to see. You feel the belief right when you get into the country. You can tell that nobody’s angry. There’s poverty over there, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just off the strength of everybody seeming to love it over there. Just seeing that and coming back here, it puts everything into perspective. It was a long trip, but it was worth it.
Nice Kicks: Keeping it off court, are you still not all that interested in social media?
Derrick Rose: Yeah, off that. You get caught up in it. There’s nothing wrong with it, because I feel like it does a lot of positive, too. It can really change your life, it can change anyone’s life. But as far as me, I think it would be bad just off the strength of it takes up too much of your time. I’m always thinking, I’m always moving around. If you have that, you’re kind of stuck and caught up in it, but to each his own. I don’t think it’s bad. You determine it as an individual — you can use it for good or you can use it to go the other way. I just feel like it’s not for me.
Nice Kicks: Switching back to the D Rose 6, you’ve obviously got plenty pairs of these before they drop. Aside from you, who will be the first person to get a pair of these?
Derrick Rose: Probably my friend Randall. [Laughs] Because he has a couple connections at adidas. He’s probably going to get a couple pairs for him and his brothers.
Nice Kicks: What’s it like having a son that’s big enough to wear your shoes now?
Derrick Rose: It’s cool to see. Whenever he watches highlights, he wants to put them on and run around. Just being a role model for him, the learning experience of going through the ups and downs with him, just seeing him grow, and really just seeing him be happy. My dad wasn’t around when I was younger and me having the opportunity to be around my son as much as I am and having the profession I have is rare. It’s rare that you have this much time to see your kid unless it’s the offseason. I’m blessed enough to see my kid the entire year if I want to. Like I said, everything is a blessing and if anything, I just try to stay positive, not only for me but for his future.
Nice Kicks: Basketball aside, what would bringing a championship to Chicago mean to you?
Derrick Rose: It would mean the world right now. That’s what I’m competing for, that’s what I’m working out for, that’s what I’m working for, that’s why I do everything — is to win a championship. I’ve got everything I want as far as off the court, the only thing I want, it takes being on the court. I’m just happy I’ve got that one year under my belt. I’m healthy and now it’s time to throw goals in.
Nice Kicks: You closed out last year’s interview telling fans you were back, and you were right. What message would you like to leave fans with this time?
Derrick Rose: Be ready.
Special thanks to adidas. All footwear photography by Sid Ashford for Nice Kicks. The adidas D Rose 6 is available now at adidas.