Detroit Pistons: Isiah Thomas and Derrick Rose share strong connection

Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A current fan favorite and an all-time favorite, two Detroit Pistons share a strong connection.

Growing up in the grit and grind of Chicago’s south side, Derrick Rose witnessed the hard work and dedication necessary that Isiah Thomas put in to become a hall of famer with the Detroit Pistons.

Rose and Thomas grew up just 30 miles apart with Thomas graduating from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois and Rose carrying on Simeon’s lofty basketball legacy on Chicago’s south side.

Fast forward from the Pistons 1989-90 back-to-back championships to 2008, Rose realized a dream turned reality after being drafted by his hometown team, which Thomas envisioned growing up as a fellow son of Chicago.

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“Everyone of us grew up wanting to say, ‘And now from Chicago,’ with the uniform running out – D-Rose got to live all of our dreams,” Thomas said on the Knuckleheads podcast. “Not only did he get to live it, he became the MVP of the league.”

From the stardom of being a hometown hero to having to resurrect his career, Rose stayed true to Chicago.

“It’s Chicago love […] me and D-Rose, I feel like we can go to Viennas and still get a hot dog, you know what I mean,” Thomas said.  “For him to be doing that in Chicago and then be named the MVP, dunking on everybody and having that attitude where he’s like, ‘I ain’t gotta say it, but you know what I’m bringing.’”

That type of mentality earned Rose the nickname of “The Windy City Assassin” given by Chicago Bulls commentator Stacey King. Fellow Chicagoean, former NBA veteran and co-host of the Knuckleheads podcast Quentin Richardson seconded Thomas’s remark on Rose’s silent assassin mentality.

“That was what I loved about him because even though he wasn’t a trash talker, everything in him still said Chicago without him saying a word,” Richardson said. “My grit, my grind, the way I’m coming in here. That young boy from the crib was the boy.”

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Rose and Thomas continued to see their careers intertwined in the fall of 2019 when Rose signed with the Pistons.

“Before he went to Detroit, I remember I called him up and said to him the same thing that Will Robinson said to me, ‘You ain’t never going to get loved more than when you’re in Detroit,’” Thomas noted.

“The way the Detroit people respond to him and the way they love him, he’s never going to feel that kind of love again. Chicago, Detroit – there’s nothing like it.”

The similarities between the motor city and windy city connect Rose and Thomas beyond basketball, exemplified when the two reunited in Detroit when Rose first joined the team. Rose went on to sink game-winners for the “Bad Boys” taking after Thomas.

The toughness of Detroit matches Rose’s perseverance to revitalize his game as mentioned by former NBA veteran and co-host of the Knuckleheads podcast Darius Miles.

“I’m very proud of D-Rose seeing him preserve through his injuries because it’s hard when you get these injuries,” Miles remarked. “Your mind can’t tell your body what to do anymore. It’s like you get down on yourself. You’re all in your head but he persevered.”

Richardson added, “This kid is Chicago tough. Tough as they come, and just look at him he’s still doing it in spite of everything […] look I’m still here and I’m doing it.”

Rose’s fight through a multitude of major knee surgeries exemplifies the perseverance instilled in him comparable to Thomas playing on a severely swollen ankle in the 1988 NBA finals. Thomas and Rose will be connected for life through the Pistons, their upbringing in Chicago and relentless perseverance.

“D-Rose is our one – it’s hard to put into words what he really means because he really lived all of our dreams,” Thomas remarked.

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