After a decorated high school career at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, Illinois, Derrick Rose decided to play his college basketball at the University of Memphis for John Calipari. During a summer workout in 2007, the explosive point guard — who was fearful that he wasn’t good enough to play for Calipari — worked on his game for five hours straight.
Calipari, who saw Rose in the gym, took a recruit on a tour of Memphis, and when he came back to the gym, the Chicago native was still in there. The head coach couldn’t believe what he saw, but Rose’s work ethic didn’t stop Calipari from picking on his talented point guard.
Derrick Rose called John Calipari the devil
In Rose’s documentary, Calipari talked about the day where he saw Rose train for five hours. The legendary coach also revealed that his floor general initially called him the devil.
“He comes on campus in the summer, and I go in the gym, and I see him walking in, and I walk in. Absolute sweating, craziness, going nuts. He had been in there about an hour,” Calipari said. “I take a recruit somewhere, come back to campus. He’s still in the gym. He’d been in there five hours. I call him over, ‘Kid, what are you doing?’ His friends in Chicago said, ‘Coach, he thought you were the devil. He called us and said I’m playing for the devil.'”
Rose and Calipari didn’t have a good relationship at the start. However, once they got on the same page, they became family and helped Memphis win a lot of games.
Derrick Rose led Memphis to championship game, increased his draft stock
Rose averaged 14.9 points and 4.7 assists in his lone season at Memphis while shooting 47.7% from the field. He and Calipari led the school to the championship game, where they lost to Kansas. Memphis went 38-2 in 2007-08, and Rose’s superb play made him a lock to be selected with the first or second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
The Chicago Bulls magically won the draft lottery and had to decide if they wanted to draft Rose or Michael Beasley. They wound up drafting the former, who was excited to play for his hometown team.
“This is a dream come true to be a Chicago Bull,” Rose said after the Bulls drafted him. “I’m happy that the Bulls picked me.”
Rose won the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year Award by averaging 16.8 points and 6.3 assists. He and Calipari remained in contact, and the latter had to be ecstatic when he saw what his former star did in 2010-11.
Windy City Assassin became youngest MVP
During the 2010-11 season, Rose averaged 25.0 points and 7.7 assists and led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA. He won the MVP Award at 22 years and 191 days old, becoming the youngest player in league history to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Michael Jordan and Rose are the only two players in Bulls history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP. The Windy City Assassin, who suffered multiple knee injuries after his MVP season, finished his Chicago career with averages of 19.7 points and 6.2 assists.
Even though Calipari only coached Rose for one year, the two have an incredibly strong bond and regularly speak on the phone.
“To this day, he’ll still say,’ Coach, I love you,'” Calipari said in Rose’s documentary. “Wait a minute, you played for me one year. He’ll see me, we’ll talk, he’ll hug me and say, ‘Coach, I love you.’ Come on, it just shows that he’s deeper than all of this.”
Rose has rejuvenated his career and is now one of the top bench players in the NBA. He finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2021 and averaged 19.4 points and 5.0 assists in the 2021 playoffs for the New York Knicks.