Bulls rookie PG Derrick Rose is catching some heat for what he admits was an ill-advised decision to flash a gang sign in front of an amateur shutterbug, but the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson is quick to insist, “the Derrick Rose I know is no gangbanger”. Uhh, did that come out right? Johnson admits, “it’s a good thing I went to college before digital cameras were invented or there probably would be pictures posted on the Internet of me performing naked calisthenics on a major interstate near Beloit”, but who can really say for sure? Has K.C. tried that new Microsoft search engine yet?

The undated photo predates Rose’s Bulls tenure because he has no tattoos on his hand. Even if it didn’t, the behavior in the photo contrasts sharply with the Rose I covered during his Rookie of the Year season.

Humble to a fault, Rose acted with class and professionalism throughout. Faced with large expectations and performing in his hometown to boot, Rose unfailingly was gracious in accommodating media requests, talked openly and honestly win or lose, was active at the Bulls’ community service functions and comported himself with maturity that belied his 20 years.

Rose disliked talking about himself but, when pressed, would do so. I had several conversations with him — some for publication, some not — that delved into his upbringing and background, and the dominant impression I received was of a person with strong family values and genuine humility.

After one home game early in the season, Rose watched as reporters swarmed Kirk Hinrich, that game’s star, for interviews. Already showered and dressed, Rose approached a team official and asked if he should wait for reporters to finish with Hinrich so they could interview him or if he could leave.

That’s conscientious decision-making by a thinker, not a thug.