Man of substance

This article appears in the March 21 "Style Report" of ESPN The Magazine.

THERE'S THE CASUAL jog as he crosses midcourt into the chaos of a trapping defense, much like the Chicago River meanders into the city's din of rattling boxcars, steaming manholes and express-lane highways. There's the sudden blast to the rim past towering defenders, as when the howling wind slices between Michigan Avenue skyscrapers. There's even that Jazz Age mustache sitting quietly above a mouth that rarely opens and beneath eyes that take in everything. That 'stache and his tattoos, including "Sweet Home Chicago" on his left wrist, are his lone accessories. No iced watches or gold ropes. That would be akin to claiming a gaudy nickname, like the City That Never Sleeps or the City of Angels, rather than, say, the City of Broad Shoulders.

See, Derrick Rose wasn't just born in Chicago and doesn't just live in Chicago and doesn't just play in Chicago.

"He is Chicago," says his Bulls teammate Joakim Noah.

Not wants to be. Or tries to be. Or has become. Is.

The same springboard of big-city aggression and heartland work ethic that launched the first black man to the White House has now catapulted Rose to the highest office in the NBA. "Chicagoans appreciate Midwestern values," President Obama says. "Like hard work, humility and giving back to those around you. Plus, it doesn't hurt if you're playing MVP-quality ball."