There were conflicting reports on whether Bulls guard Derrick Rose was going to participate in a pair of games in the Philippines this weekend. But it's gaining traction, becoming more and more clear that he will, indeed, head to the Philippines.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday: "Derrick Rose indeed is scheduled to join NBA stars for an exhibition in the Philippines this weekend, a source close to the reigning most valuable player confirmed."
Thursday, ESPNChicago's Melissa Isaacson reported that Rose "boarded a plane from Los Angeles to the Philippines on Wednesday to take part in a two-game exhibition series this weekend, according to a source close to Rose."
Rose will reportedly be joined by eight other NBA players: Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, New Orleans' Chris Paul, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, Minnesota's Derrick Williams, Washington's JaVale McGee, Oklahoma City's James Harden and Lakers' Derek Fisher.
The team consists of four NBA All-Stars in Bryant, Paul, Rose and Durant with 21 years of All-Star game experience between them, two Most Valuable Player award winners in Rose and Bryant, four Rookie of the Year award winners and two (Bryant and Fisher) NBA champions. They're a decent squad to say the least.
For Rose, 22, it's another sign his brand, stardom continues to grow. He's already number one in his hometown, Chicago, but what about being number one in China (where Rose will travel to for an adidas promotional tour)?
Said Lawrence Norman, the vice president of global basketball for adidas: "If you're from Shanghai, you may not grow up to be 7-6. But [Rose's] aggressive playing style and the position he plays and the fact that he's 6-3, all players, whether they live in Chicago or Shanghai, can [try to] be a point guard in the NBA.
"They love Yao Ming [who officially retired this week] but they aspire to be Derrick Rose."
And here's your offseason Rose/Michael Jordan comparison.
"There's a lot Jordan-esque about him," Rich Honack, marketing professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, said, "but what he doesn't have is Michael's smile. Michael didn't have to say a word, he just had to smile, and Derrick needs to work on that, on a connection with the people. He's such a good basketball player and so humble, but if you want to make more money and have more endorsements, you have to be careful not to be too humble."
There's no question what the next step for Rose is, in a basketball sense: Win a title. That's what Bulls legend Michael Jordan did six times, becoming the biggest icon in sports during his time, and still one today.
"All of that (branding) would have been a sideshow if he (Jordan) hadn't won," former Bulls guard and Rose's current agent B.J. Armstrong said. "The excellence comes with performing, that's the name of the game."
Next stop: Manila. Kobe Bryant might be the main attraction coming in, but Rose could further solidify himself with a good showing in the Philippines. However, Rose has taken the backseat in games such as these -- when he's playing alongside multiple stars -- in the past, examples being All-Star games and the World Tournament last summer. Can he rise to the occasion this time, playing alongside several stars? Of course, no injuries, please.