By Mike McGraw
Derrick Rose has always been a remarkably grounded superstar.
So the Bulls bringing one of his childhood friends to training camp probably won't change Rose's outlook toward his current life as a highly paid shoe endorser and knee rehab specialist.
Ryan Allen is doing all the work on the court for the two longtime friends, who first met as seventh grade AAU teammates.
Allen is a 6-foot-3 guard from Wisconsin-Milwaukee. If he seems vaguely familiar, it's probably because he bears a strong resemblance to his older brother Tony, the defensive-minded shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Bulls needed some extra bodies for training camp, preferably players who wouldn't mind having little-to-no chance of making the final roster. So Allen postponed plans to play in Europe and became Rose's teammate for a second time.
Back in the day, Rose and Allen ran together with Ferarri, one of the stronger AAU programs in Chicago. Even when Rose's brother Reggie formed his own team, Mean Streets, Rose and Allen remained tight.
After practice at the Berto Center, Allen talked about the old days, when he and Rose were just a couple of talented teens with basketball dreams.
"We hung out at each other's houses, played video games, went to the movies -- just normal things," Allen said. "Definitely stayed out of the street and around the bad crowds. We were in the gym a lot.
"Derrick spent most of his time in the gym. He would sit in the gym for four or five hours. We'd do a workout nonstop and he'd still go four, five hours."
Allen's favorite memory from that era was the team's first long AAU road trip, which placed them at a tournament in Clarksville, Tenn. at Austin Peay University.
The players drove down in vans, stayed at a hotel and got a taste of quality national competition.
"That was the best time of my life," Allen said. "That was one of the best trips we ever had. I'm pretty sure if you'd ask Derrick, he'd say the same.
"We had a lot of fun that trip. There was another team from Chicago there. We knew those guys. We just did a lot of stuff."
Allen remembered having his head shaved by Rose during the trip. But the competition made that trip stand out as much as any hotel hijinks.
"We were the No. 2 team there," he said. "We lost to a team from Memphis. That's really when Derrick broke out, so we were kind of in awe. He's always been that good. It was fun -- we were winning and we were away from home."
They won't get to play together in preseason, but in many ways, Allen has come full circle with Rose. They've gone from trying to dodge trouble on the way to basketball courts in Chicago's roughest neighborhoods to the luxury of an NBA lifestyle -- however brief it may be for Allen.
"We never imagined none of this," Allen said. "This was never in the plan. This all just happened and I'm appreciating every day of it. It pushes you and motivates you to just keep doing the right thing and making the right decisions."