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Jabari Parker speaks up for fellow Simeon alum Derrick Rose

MILWAUKEE — Bucks rookie forward Jabari Parker never has been one to pass up the easy assist, especially if it’s for a fellow Simeon alum.

So only five games into his NBA career, Parker was doing his part to shield Derrick Rose from the growing criticism emanating from the city they grew up in.

“I feel pretty good about it because I knew he’d be stronger after this,’’ Parker said when asked about those who question Rose’s toughness. “With injuries, it’s more mentally tough than physically. Physical nature, he’s phenomenal. But he’s more mentally prepared than anything, and I respect the route that he went. And he’s healthy now.’’

Well, relatively speaking.

Rose answered the bell for the game against the Bucks after missing the game Tuesday against the Magic. The two former Simeon standouts went head-to-head for the first time in a regular-season game.

They shook hands and hugged at halfcourt seconds before the tipoff.

“Oh, big-time,’’ Parker said of looking up to Rose. “You can shadow them, and this lifestyle is accomplishable because somebody like him is not too different than us from Chicago. We grew up in similar environments and neighborhoods. We went to the same school. So he’s somebody that gave me someone to emulate.

“It was tough, but we made sure we surrounded ourselves with good people. That really separated us from any other average dudes that had just the amount of desire as we did. We had a real good support system. It was really rare to see people from public schools — not private school, not Catholic school — playing on the same floor. It’s real special.’’

The same praise can be heaped on Parker, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“A lot of talent, for sure,’’ Thibodeau said. “Usually for young guys, rookies, their first time through, they see things, and as they get more comfortable, they play better and better. But he’s a load. He’s a tough matchup. He can shoot, he can put it on the floor, he can play in the post, he can pass and he can move without the ball. Those guys are hard to guard. He’s not afraid. He’s not afraid of big moments, and he’s going to be a great pro.’’

The Noah plan

Center Joakim Noah was out again with flu-like symptoms, but Thibodeau said he was well enough to rejoin the team Wednesday night in Milwaukee and fly with the Bulls to Philadelphia for the game Friday against the 76ers.

The Bulls were scheduled to have a day off in Philadelphia, so that meant another day for Noah to relax and continue to get better.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Bulls wrapped up a back-to-back and will have another Friday and Saturday.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com
Twitter: @suntimes_hoops