It isn’t often that a horde of media members surrounds Derrick Rose to discuss non-basketball related issues these days.
Then again, Rose has never been the type to draw attention to himself away from the court.
That all changed on Saturday, when the Bulls star decided to make a statement while warming up before the game with Golden State, wearing an “I Can’t Breathe’’ T-shirt, referring to the Eric Garner case in which the New York man died in July after a police officer placed him in a chokehold while he was arrested for selling loose cigarettes.
Rose said he didn’t speak after the loss to the Warriors because he was so angry with the outcome of the game and the way he played.
Monday, there was nothing else for Rose to do but discuss his reasoning for making such a strong statement like that.
“I’m just happy that people paid attention to it,’’ Rose said. “I think it touched a lot of people because I grew up in an impoverished area like that. And sometimes that happens a lot of times. It just touched a lot of people. And I wanted to make sure I got my point across.
“I wouldn’t say I’m going to do it every time. It’s just something I felt. Usually I stay out of politics and police brutality. I’m not saying all cops are bad or anything. I’m just saying that what happened them days was uncalled for and I think it hurt a lot of people. It hurt the nation.
“My biggest concern is the kids. I know what they’re thinking right now. I was one of them kids. When you live in an area like that and you don’t got any hope and police are treating you any way – I’m not saying all police are treating kids bad – but when you live in an area like that, it gives you another reason to be bad. My biggest concern is the kids and making sure my son grows up in a safe environment.’’
Rose became a father in October of 2012, and he said the birth of his son played a major role in his decision to have the shirt made up, and then sport it during the pre-game.
“I’m a parent now,’’ Rose said. “Probably two years ago, it probably would’ve been different. I probably wouldn’t have worn the shirt. But now that I’m a dad, it changed my outlook on life period.
“I don’t want my son growing up being scared of police or even have the thought in his mind that something like that could happen. I have a cousin, [and] that easily could’ve been him or one of our relatives. It’s sad that people lost their lives over there.’’
It’s not the first time Rose has showed a social conscience as of late, making news before the start of the season when he donated $1 million to After School Matters. He’s also been outspoken about violence in the city of Chicago, appearing in a commercial for Joakim Noah’s anti-violence campaign.
The 2011 NBA MVP said he “hadn’t heard about’’ all the fallout from the shirt, but was glad that he was getting support from his teammates, as well as from other NBA starts around the league like LeBron James.
“He’s a huge figure,’’ Rose said of James. “He grew up in a neighborhood like that. So it means a lot for a star like that to come out and say something, especially a megastar. So I’m happy about that.’’
As Monday showed, Rose also had strong backing from his coach.
“I think it’s a great message,’’ Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s about equality and justice for everybody. So I think you guys know the type of person Derrick is.’’