Standing before a crowd of smiling kids, on top of a newly resurfaced basketball court in his old South Side neighborhood, Bulls guard Derrick Rose put the NBA's labor issues into perspective.
"To me, the lockout is unnecessary," Rose told the crowd at Murray Playground Park in Englewood. "There's no reason billionaires and millionaires should be arguing about money."
Contact information ( * required )
In a normal year, Rose would be getting ready to open Bulls training camp next Tuesday and build on the 62-win season of 2010-11.
Instead, training camp is postponed indefinitely while the players and owners figure out how to divide a hefty pile of revenues.
Rose said he'd consider playing overseas if the entire NBA season is canceled, but he made it clear that option is a long way from coming true.
He has no offer, team or country in mind. He recently returned from taking his mother, Brenda, on a trip to Bora Bora, which has no professional basketball.
"I don't have a job right now. I haven't felt this way since high school," Rose said with a laugh. "But I'm thinking positive. It's all positive. I'm hoping that the season starts, no matter when, and hopefully I don't have to go overseas."
Rose admitted there is no challenge to waiting out the start of the NBA season. After spending the summer working out as usual, he will just have to extend the routine into the fall.
"It's not hard on me," he said. "I do miss talking to the people at the Bulls organization. I miss talking to them, talking to my coaching staff. I miss that. But it's not stressful. I'm not panicking or anything. I'm just taking my time."
While the lockout is in effect, Bulls coaches and employees are not allowed to have any contact with players.
The real story Tuesday, though, was Rose's return to Englewood.
Powerade helped sponsor a renovation of Murray Park. Rose said when he wasn't in school he'd be at the park from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., or whenever his mom came looking for him.
"We don't have indoor courts," he told the crowd. "This is the only thing in our neighborhood that keeps us together and it means a lot to us. You have people picnic, having barbecues, everything up here."
Rose spoke to the crowd about the renovation and NBA lockout, then answered a few questions posed by the kids from nearby Randolph Elementary, the school he attended.
A news release suggested the reigning MVP would toss down the first dunk at the new-look park. But dressed in street clothes, he settled for the first scoop lay-in.
"Coming back here, I know it means a lot, not only to me, but the community," Rose said. "If I was younger, I'd think it would be cool if a guy that made it before me would came back and just show that he appreciated us and didn't forget about us."
Rose was asked about his security detail. Chicago police secured all four street corners surrounding the park, which sits on 74th and Hermitage.
"If it was up to me, I wouldn't have any security because I feel comfortable," he said. "I don't need it. You have some people that look at you different. I'm still from the neighborhood, so I'm not worried about that."
A few of those neighbors who pressed close enough to hear Rose speak seconded that sentiment. Rose is welcome back in Englewood any time.