Minnesota Timberwolves’ Derrick Rose, left, drives around Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

As difficult as the news would be for B.J. Armstrong to deliver, he knew, at that moment, the job had to be done.

Like with any of his clients, Armstrong saw Derrick Rose as a person first and an NBA star second. But when it came to telling Rose that his hometown Bulls were about to trade him to the Knicks In 2016, Armstrong realized that his perspective had to flip.

The scene, which was captured on camera as it happened, is perhaps the most gripping of any in a 100-minute documentary, Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story, that debuted last week on Stadium and that will be shown again later this week.

As he placed to call to Rose, Armstrong — who won three championships with the Bulls — was keenly aware of Rose’s love for Chicago, the city where he grew up and where he became the No. 1 overall pick of the Bulls in 2008. But in 2016, five years after Rose had signed a five-year, $94.3 million contract after capturing the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in the 2011-12 season, but also dealing with knee injuries that came to define him in his hometown, Rose’s life was about to change dramatically.

“That was a critical moment for him,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview on Monday.

A formal Chicago Bulls player B.J. Armstrong speaks for President Barack Obama at a fundraising kickoff event at Navy Pier in Chicago, Thursday, April 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Unlike the host of other trades that occur in professional sports, however, Rose learning he would be sent to New York was being played out with a film crew present in Los Angeles. Armstrong’s call interrupts an interview for the documentary, which demonstrated how quickly Rose’s life would change over a four-minute span.

In the phone call, Armstrong – who is an executive producer of the film – tells his client that the story will cause a big stir and says he will need to be prepared to deal with playing the nation’s biggest media market. As Rose breaks down emotionally as he hears the news, Armstrong tried to prepare Rose for the sudden change that was coming.

Rose’s initial reaction to Armstrong: “You lying.”

Armstrong knew whatever Rose’s emotion, he had to keep pushing through.

“Whatever’s going on, we need to keep it moving, right?” Armstrong said as he reflected back on the conversation on Monday. “That’s the general principle of the world. The world keeps going whether it’s with you or without you. He was going to a place where he had to be prepared for.

“I just wanted to focus on what was going on at that time and allow him to express himself however he needed to express himself.”

In the moments immediately taking the phone call from Armstrong, Rose admits to being anxious but also shocked. Then, the tears began to come as he realized his hometown team had traded him.

“That (expletive) made me who I am, man,” Rose said the documentary.

At the time, Armstrong knew that Rose never wanted to leave Chicago given all the city meant to him – and does to this day. Since the trade, Rose has played for the Knicks, Cavaliers, and Timberwolves, who he signed a one-year, $2.39 million deal with prior to this season. Rose will be an unrestricted free agent but continues to carry a piece of Chicago with him.

The connection to his hometown made delivering the news that he would have to move on even more difficult for Armstrong. The setting in which the conversation took place also added a different dimension.

“That was a tough moment, and when we have a tough moment, we normally don’t live it out in front of the camera, in real time,” Armstrong said. “But the thing that was most impressive is that he was aware of himself. He kept the camera rolling.

“This was something that obviously wasn’t planned but he had the composure to keep moving.”

In eight seasons with the Bulls, Rose missed 256 games due to injury, which changed the trajectory of someone who captured the NBA Rookie of the Year the MVP within the first three seasons of his career. In the film, Rose acknowledges that in the moments he shows emotion, it comes from understanding where he comes from.

But now, at age 30, Rose will continue to blend basketball with life, which has changed dramatically since he entered the league 11 years ago. The documentary opens Rose’s life – the good, bad and everything in between – up for viewers and offers a peek into someone who, despite having such a deep connection to one city, is perhaps as misunderstood by people in Chicago as anyone.

If anything, Armstrong said the documentary should give fans a more complete view of Rose, who averaged 18 points and 4.3 assists per game in 51 games with the Timberwolves this season. Regardless of what happens next for Rose in his career, Armstrong believes the overarching theme of a career that will be entering its 12thyear is one of perseverance. In addition to his career ups and downs, Rose was also accused of gang rape by an accuser seeking $21.5 million before Rose and two friends were cleared and were not charged.

“No matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to get back up,” Armstrong said. “You can’t accept ‘no’ if you’re going to be successful in this world and Derrick has certainly had had is moments as it relates to injuries, but he continues to get back up and he continues to put one foot in front of the other. You keep it moving.

“How does this strong end? You live your life and you live it one moment at a time. You get knocked down seven times, you get back up eight.”

Whether Rose’s NBA journey includes a return to where everything started for him is something his agent won’t completely rule out. Being selected by the Bulls at No. 1 required some improbability, which keeps one day being back in the uniform he wore for seven seasons a possibility – remote or otherwise. But regardless of which way his career path turns next, Rose – according to his agent – will face it head-on.

“He’s playing in the NBA, he’s happy,” Armstrong said. “…For him, he’s healthy, he’s in a good place and we’ll see what happens. He loves Chicago and if the stars lined up…But it’s been a great ride and it’s been a great run for him in the NBA.”





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