Just after Derrick Rose was traded in late June to the New York Knicks, closing the book on an eight-year run in Chicago for the hometown kid and former MVP, his product managers at adidas began to create updated versions of his new adidas D Rose 7 in orange and blue hues.
The trade wasn’t exactly a surprise. The Bulls were looking to move on from the oft-injured Rose, who’s missed 304 games in his career and has just one year remaining on the max contract extension he signed in 2011. For adidas, who signed Rose to a 13-year extension in 2012, New York was the best possible scenario from the brand’s perspective.
The D Rose 7 is just now hitting stores and features the most technology in his series to date. There’s a full-length Boost foam-cushioning platform, a computer-crafted Primeknit woven upper, and, of course, a contoured collar to provide Rose with ample ankle support. The Boost cushioning, which has a bit of a styrofoam look, was first incorporated into parts of the heel and forefoot of both the D Rose 5 and 6 shoes. Ever since first playing in it, he’s been adamant about using the technology going forward. “His first reaction was, ‘I don’t know what Boost is, but I want it in all my shoes going forward,'” said Chris Rivers, adidas Basketball’s senior player relations manager and Rose’s longtime brand liaison.
In addition to the tech throughout, the shoe also features design elements that still draft from Chicago’s local history. “The inspiration was based on the Great Chicago Fire, and how the city had to rebuild itself and come from the ashes,” Rivers said.
The two-pronged collar pieces on each side of the shoe help to provide ankle support, but take their shape from the flowing flames and smoke of the late-19th century fire that burned through the heart of Chicago, leaving a third of the city’s population homeless and requiring years of rebuilding. Now it’s Rose’s chance to rebuild his career.
The D Rose 7 represents a new chapter in his career and journey with adidas. “They sent me a sample shoe, and they were just showing me the Primeknit [material] on it,” Rose said. “This was before the trade. The shoe was all white, with orange in it. I’m like, ‘Man, why’d they send me a shoe with orange in it?’ I didn’t get it. All of a sudden, I got traded to the Knicks, and I’m like, ‘Was that a sign?'”
As excited as Rose, 27, is about a fresh start, being traded is never easy.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was kind of hurt at first, of course, coming from my hometown and moving, period,” Rose said. “Being away from my kids and away my family, that’s going to get to you, no matter who you are. You’re going to be emotional about it.”
Though he looks back at his time in Chicago fondly, Rose is eager to tackle the grand expectations in New York. “I’m going to a great market, and to a city where they love basketball and basketball is a culture there,” Rose said. “They just love players that play hard, and I think that I fit that personality. I’m a person that’s going to play hard and give the game everything that he’s got.”
To this point, that approach has helped Rose create one of the sport’s biggest signature businesses. Rose’s early success with his first two adidas shoes from 2010-2012 could be credited to their retail price of $110 and his MVP-level play as one of the few point guards in the league with a signature shoe. He also earned a legion of fans at the time for his humble hometown story in the wake of criticism of LeBron James for “The Decision.”
As his sneaker sales have slowed stateside because of a string of major injuries, Rose’s signature business has been surprisingly strong globally. A brand source recently mentioned that Rose’s products have totaled around $100 million in total sales, with 70 percent of that generated from the Chinese market. Adidas operates roughly 9,000 branded stores throughout China, where Rose’s annual signature shoe, his 773 team shoe, a casual shoe and plenty of branded apparel are featured at each store. He also does an annual multi-city tour throughout Asia.
Rose wrapped up an Asian tour last week, visiting Shanghai and Seoul to host basketball camps, meet fans, work out and launch sneakers. Before the trip, he worked out in his summer home in Los Angeles with trainer Rob McClanaghan and several new Knicks teammates, including Kristaps Porzingis, Sasha Vujacic, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee.
“There was a very high energy and a great vibe in the gym,” McClanaghan told The Vertical. “D-Rose has looked extremely good. He’s in a good place on and off the court and just can’t wait to get it going with this team.”
“I just love the group,” Rose said. “I think everybody is on the same page. I love the culture that Phil is creating. Just the organization and franchise, I love everybody that’s working on it, and they seem like they’re very excited for everything. That just rubs off on people.”
Rose has heard the critics and is preparing to be at his best for New York’s opening game against the defending champions in Cleveland.
“I feel like I’m not done,” Rose said. “It’s a new start. I feel rejuvenated, and when you put all that together, when I step on the floor, I really don’t know what to expect. What I’m doing right now is just preparing myself for something big. I think we have a chance to win every game, and in the league, that’s rare. ”
Chicago always will remain with Rose, which is why he’ll be wearing No. 25 with New York. He wore the number while at Simeon High School to honor the school’s fallen star, Benji Wilson, who was one of the top high school players in America when he died in 1984 after an altercation with student from another high school. “I’m not forgetting where I came from,” Rose said. “It’s my roots, and I’ll always give Chicago my all.”
While several of Rose’s past sneakers featured his old No. 1 in different parts of the shoe, the D Rose 7 minimizes references to it. There’s a No. 1 incorporated into his small written signature on the heel because adidas wasn’t able to update it in time for the launch. The inner negative space of the D along his “D Rose” logo also contains a subtle “1,” which also won’t be changing going forward.
“The past is the past, but that No. 1, I think, will always be stuck with me,” Rose said. “It’s always going to remind people and give them memories of how I played when I was younger. I was playing reckless, and I was just ballin’. I had raw talent.”
The next chapter is nearing, and the expectations have heightened Rose’s excitement for the 2016-2017 season. It’s a chance to prove his offseason work has paid off and to build on last season’s relatively healthy 66-game campaign. After the All-Star break in February, Rose averaged 19.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field. It was his most consistent stretch of play since that 2011 MVP season.
“Now, with the No. 25, I think you’ll see a more mature player,” Rose said. “You’ll see the player that you saw toward the end of last year. More under control type of game, and I got a lot more options now this year. That No. 1 will always be engraved in me, and it’s not going anywhere. Twenty-five is just a new step, and a new step in the right direction.”
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