Parker begins his Bulls career by defending Rose
The Bulls officially launched "A Chicago Story, Part 3" on Wednesday.
During the past decade, they've added three celebrated city natives -- Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and now Jabari Parker.
The circumstances were different each time and there was team success along the way, but the Bulls are still searching for a perfect ending to one of these homecomings.
The most memorable moment of Parker's introductory news conference at the United Center was when he jumped to the defense of Rose. It wasn't all that necessary, a questioning reporter used the phrase "rise and fall" to describe Rose's run with the Bulls, but Parker would have none of it.
"Derrick had no lows. He didn't, because he still maintained," Parker said. "Derrick is a legend, no matter what. I don't like how you explained that."
Rose is roughly six years older than Parker, both are from the South Side and they led Simeon to a total of six state championships. In many ways, Parker evolved in Rose's shadow, and grew up idolizing the former NBA MVP.
"No rise and fall. Injuries are a part of life. Everybody has injuries, either in athletics or normal life," Parker said, speaking like an experienced voice at age 23. "But Derrick is one of the best players to ever play the game and he's one of the best icons in Chicago, so he accomplished his duty already."
It was interesting how the Rose comment got such a rise out of Parker, since his father Sonny talked about how difficult it has been to wrangle any sort of emotion out of Jabari.
"I used to do things on purpose just to get a reaction," Sonny Parker said. "I don't know how he does it. If you watch him, he very seldom celebrates because he feels like he's been there before. He keeps a lot of things inside. You've got to pay attention to it when it does come out."
Parker seems determined to prove someone can overcome injury misfortune to have a successful NBA career. Parker tore the ACL in his left knee twice during four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. As Bulls fans know too well, Rose was never the same after suffering a torn ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, after twice leading the Bulls to the NBA's best record.
"I feel like when you struggle more, you succeed more," Parker said.
Parker signed a two-year deal worth $40 million to jump from the Bucks to Bulls as a free agent. The second-year of the deal is a team option, so the Bulls can treat this as a one-year experiment.
The questions, however, are virtually endless. Can Parker play small forward? Can he coexist with Zach LaVine on the wing? Does this lineup have any hope of playing any defense? With the Bulls in rebuilding mode, they can afford to take a chance on a No. 2 overall draft pick and see if it works.
"We feel this signing fits perfectly into the direction we chose," Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said. "We're adding another young talented player to our roster, someone with great versatility."
Sonny Parker had an answer ready when asked if Jabari would be a tough fit at small forward. He spent more time playing power forward in Milwaukee, but the jury is out on how the 6-foot-8 Parker will fare at the three spot.
"He's a queen on the chessboard," Sonny Parker said. "He can play any position. He doesn't have a position. He's athletic and he's skilled."
Parker called playing for the Bulls a dream come true, and talked about growing up just down the road at the James Jordan Boys & Girls Club. The family lived on the South Side, on 79th and Jeffery, but Sonny worked as athletic supervisor at the Jordan Center. Jabari's older brother Christian talked about how that connection gave Parker a unique perspective on the city.
"Jabari would beg to come over there after school," Christian said. "We'd have to drive all the way across town just for Jabari to come and play at the Boys and Girls Club for a couple hours every day.
"It was really good for us, because we were kind of displaced in two different communities. West-Siders loved Jabari, South-Siders loved Jabari. It made us a little more universal around the city."
Parker never brought the same flash as Rose. He's not arriving in town with the stature of Wade. If Parker can help the rebuilding pieces connect, the Bulls might have a talented team with room to grow.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls.