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updated: 2/27/2012 8:47 PM

Be like Rose? It's best to have a backup plan

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  • Derrick Rose warms up before the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

    Derrick Rose warms up before the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Orlando, Fla.
    Associated Press


Adidas just committed $260 million to Derrick Rose over the next 14 years.

"Mom," the Bulls' all-star said, "we finally made it."

No, wait. Rose uttered those words back in December after signing a five-year, $94.8 million contract with the Bulls.

Rose apparently hadn't made it yet when the Bulls paid him $22.5 million over his first four NBA seasons.

If my math is correct, which it rarely is, the Bulls and Adidas have guaranteed the 23-year-old Rose nearly $400 million.

Not bad work if you or even Warren Buffett can get it.

It's certainly not bad for a young man like Rose from an impoverished neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

Now is about the time we're all supposed to proclaim that, see, anything is possible in America.

Yes, even a poor kid from Englewood can become 40 percent of a billionaire as a young adult, as long as he's blessed with a remarkably athletic body, great work ethic and supportive family.

To me, when somebody like Rose makes it out of a place like Englewood to become a financial baron, well, there's a concern that sports are perceived as the ticket out.

Wouldn't it be better if the role model for young people in challenged areas were someone other than an athlete?

A doctor returning to the old neighborhood could preach more realistically that staying in school and studying hard can lead to a good living in the field of health care.

Others could point out that you can live well if you go to college and become a lawyer, accountant or architect, or to vocational school and become a cook, mechanic or electrician.

Just think of how many more paralegals are making a living than NBA point guards are, how many more meat cutters there are than MLB shortstops, how many more bakers there are than NFL quarterbacks.

The problem is, those jobs aren't as glamorous, lucrative or fun as sports are.

However, they are more attainable, enabling men and women to provide a good life for their families.

As we speak, boys are pounding basketballs in parks and playgrounds around America while believing they can be the next Derrick Rose.

Many of them will get college scholarships for four years but not take advantage of the opportunity to earn a degree. Their only goal will be to go for a year or two before graduating to the NBA like Rose did.

The odds of making it to the big leagues of any sport are so long, yet so many young people long for that destiny.

Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, as long they understand they might have a better chance to be president of the United States than point guard of the Bulls.

(Of course, running the country doesn't pay as much as running the Bulls' offense does.)

Look, it's great for young people to dream big and aspire to be the next Derrick Rose.

However, it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. There's a wide world out there between poverty and $400 million.

Responsible adults have to come in and say, OK, give it a try but have a backup plan.

Rose, who expresses the intent to help the residents of Englewood, can be that responsible adult. Kids will listen to him, you know.

He can impress upon them, athletes and others, in there and everywhere, that not everyone is lucky enough to win the lottery and "finally make it" at age 23.

Most of all, Rose's lesson can be that the path out of the neighborhood doesn't have to run through the United Center or Soldier Field.

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