Derrick Rose admits O.J. Mayo forced him to ‘step my s**t up’ as a kid
Derrick Rose still remembers playing O.J. Mayo as a young kid trying to get to the NBA. While the Chicago Bulls drafted the hometown kid with the first overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, there was a time where Mayo was schooling the likes of Rose and others of this draft class.
This goes back to when Rose was in seventh grade:
“I got a chance to play against Juice,” Rose told Michael Lee of The Athletic, “and he was my measuring stick. It was unreal. He was tiers above everyone else on the floor. He knew what his game was and at that age, kids his age, we were just trying to figure it out. He had handles, the step back. He had pro moves at a young age. I knew I wasn’t there. It just showed, man, I got to step my shit up.”
Mayo was the man back in the day. He was going against some of the best NBA prospects in Rose and Corey Fisher and dominating younger ones like Lance Stephenson.
As Rose tells it, he was chasing Mayo’s footsteps for most of his high school career. The Chicago native, who recently published his autobiography, “I’ll Show You,” noted the book could have easily had a different name:
“I could’ve easily named the book, ‘Chasing O.J.’ Like dead serious. It easily could’ve been titled that,” said Rose. “No Bull.”
“His hype, behind LeBron, was huge, so seeing him up close, seeing how he was … He was just a pro, man. He had some type of aura about him, to where he knew how great he was and he expressed it in the way he played.”
Ultimately, that hype would catch up with Mayo, as his pro career never really took off the way that it should have, while a humble, unassuming Rose, well … rose to an MVP level early in his career.