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If there’s anything that last season taught us, it’s that teamwork matters. Even with the greatest player of our current time in LeBron James, the Heat couldn’t overcome the San Antonio Spurs in last year’s Finals. Better yet, they didn’t really come close, and that’s no slap in the face to the Heat, who had a loaded cast. But those days are over, and the 2014-2015 season is about to begin.

There’s no reason for me to predict or argue which teams will be the most competitive this year; like every other season it’s obvious before the first game even begins. Teams like the Wizards and Warriors and Suns and Raptors will be tough and can win on any given night, but the real contenders are the Cavs, Bulls, Clippers and Spurs, all complete squads that have the right pieces to be successful basketball teams. (And the Thunder, but I just don’t see it happening. Trading Harden will probably haunt them forever, unfortunately. Yet like every other hoops fan, I’ll always root for Durant.)

Rather than get emotional and try to convince everyone (again) that the Bulls are ready to win it all this year, I’d rather share some pictures that Ashley and I took of Derrick Rose at a recent meet and greet at a Foot Locker in Chicago. Adidas was promoting the new D Rose 5.0, so they had Derrick come to a Foot Locker to meet with fans to sign autographs. Ashley and I were in town on a shoot coincidentally, so we couldn’t resist the chance to possibly meet him. I wore my Pippen jacket, went to Foot Locker, and after the first 50 fans were able to get inside, we got close enough to flash my ABC media card. Surprisingly, it worked immediately, and the friendly folks at Foot Locker let Ashley and I inside to take pictures. Like I expected, he was friendly, sincere, and spoke with every fan who approached him.

I was lucky enough to also meet Leon Rogers, a local radio DJ and comic who was the MC of the event. I didn’t know it at the time, but after doing quick research I’ve learned how successful Leon has been in his career and how important he is to the local community. He was recognized as soon as he stopped to talk with me out on the street; a great guy who was also moved by the event.

Right before I left, I made sure to shake Derrick’s hand and thank him, as it’s been nothing less than an honor to watch him play for the Bulls. He exemplifies everything that you’d want in a professional athlete, and after everything he’s been through he deserves all the success in the world, truly.

As far as the rest of the NBA is concerned, let’s all enjoy it. It’s a long season, but there’s a lot of good players and teams and people to root for.

Maybe not as much as Derrick, but there’s still a lot to see. I can’t wait.

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