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The Chicago Bulls star shoots and scores with his latest business venture.
On the court Derrick Rose is reminiscent of his idol, Michael Jordan. He’s dominant and versatile, has a jaw-dropping vertical leap and seems to create plays out of thin air. Now he’s emulating his idol off the court, too, by continuing to venture into the business arena. Earlier this month Rose made headlines when Adidas released the new D Rose 3 shoe, designed in conjunction with the Chicago Bulls star (and adorned with a signature logo that honors Rose’s mother and three brothers). But he’s also trying his hand in the local business realm by becoming an equity partner in Chicago-based pizza chain Giordano’s.
The partnership is a natural fit for Rose, who has long loved the local chain. “Growing up in Chicago, I remember going to Giordano’s with my family all the time,” says Rose, who hails from Englewood. “It means a lot to partner with a company that is Chicago born and bred, like me.”
It was equally as seamless for the company. “It was an organic, easy-going process,” says Giordano’s CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas. He says that B.J. Armstrong (the former Chicago Bulls star who is now Rose’s agent) reached out to the brand on behalf of Rose, who wanted to be associated with a Chicago business, but wanted it to be one he considered the best. “It was a tremendous honor for us, because it meant we met that threshold,” says Koutsogiorgas.
Rose frequently orders from Giordano’s under an alias, and Koutsogiorgas says that delivery drivers often come back stunned after meeting the basketball superstar. Since signing on with the pizza chain Rose has been spending more time in the restaurants, even delivering pizzas to a table one night to surprise fans.“People were on the floor!” Koutsogiorgas laughs. “They couldn’t believe it!”
In his new role as equity partner, Rose will be involved promoting the brand and also help out with recipe development. (His current favorite? Thin crust cheese.) But he’ll also be helping Giordano’s expand its outreach. During the next few months, the company will be teaming up with Rose’s alma mater, Simeon Career Academy, for events. “He’s so committed to helping his old school and to giving back,” says Koutsogiorgas.
While pursuing business ventures on the side, Rose’s main off-season focus has been rehabilitating his torn ACL, which sidelined him for the remainder of the 2011-12 playoffs and will keep him out for a portion of this upcoming season.
“I’m doing everything I can to build myself back up physically and mentally, while also trying to remain patient with my body,” says Rose. “I’m going through workouts and therapy five days a week, starting from the beginning with strength training and building my body back up.”
For Rose, who has shown emotion while talking about his injury, being on the bench has been difficult. “It’s hard,” he says of watching his team play without him. “I’m just thankful to be working towards playing again and hope to come back as soon as possible.”
When Rose returns midseason he’ll join a Bulls team that includes center Joakim Noah; forwards Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson; and guard Jimmy Butler. If they can avoid injuries, the squad has a good shot of making it to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
“We have a good team this year and we want to win,” says Rose. But according the Rose, this team’s best quality has nothing to do with rebounds or dunks. “We have hard-working people,” says Rose. “Chicago is a blue-collar city and we want to represent it well by being a hard-working team.”
He cites other Chicago-bred players such as Jordan, Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas and Maurice Cheeks as instilling a tradition of hard work that he strives to continue. And at the forefront of everything he does are the Chicago Bulls fans. “The team and I are very blessed to have such true fans and we appreciate all of their support.”
Rose has proved his on-court smarts and is showing glimpses of corporate-world business savvy. But for Chicagoans, Rose embodies much more than just a jump shot or a new shoe: He’s a role model we can all look up to.
“He’s just a really good person,” says Koutsogiorgas. “Nice, humble and gracious, like the kid next door.”