Derrick Rose breaks into tears while on stage at his new sneaker launch (VIDEO)

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CHICAGO — Derrick Rose was in Chicago Thursday for a huge media event to launch his latest signature basketball shoe from adidas, the D Rose 3. The unveiling of the shoes, the new logo, and the apparel collection were supposed to be the centers of attention, but a raw and authentic display of emotion from Rose himself was what ended up stealing the show.

About 25 minutes into the presentation, and after a video was shown — one in a series which chronicles his journey to make it back to the court after suffering a torn ACL in the first game of the playoffs last April — Rose found himself trying to hold back the tears as he was overcome with emotion.

At that point, adidas Vice President of Global Basketball Lawrence Norman expertly stepped in.

“I know it’s emotional,” Norman said. “You just have to understand that you’re inspiring millions of fans with your comeback. But the purpose of “The Return” goes both ways, because they’re inspiring you. Whether it’s communicating with you on Facebook or Twitter, or the millions and millions of hits on your videos. Inspiration goes both ways, so maybe you can tell us about some of the inspiration you’re getting from your fans.”

But Rose wasn’t yet ready.

After a good 30 seconds in a room that went silent, save for the fast-clicking sounds of the cameras that were being snapped repeatedly to capture this powerful moment, Rose began to speak.

“It’s truly a blessing,” Rose said, while still choking back the tears. “With all of the stuff that’s going on in this city, a kid from Englewood has got something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. This shoe is great; all this is great. But I can’t explain this. I can’t.  I went through so much. To have, like, true fans, that means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to my family, because we’re not supposed to be here. At all. But God made the way.”

Rose is one of the most humble superstars the game has today; he spent parts of the presentation uncomfortably staring at the ground while his accomplishments were recited, and while praise was heaped upon his shoulders. When forced to think about the path he took to get to this elite level, it’s evident that even now, four years into his NBA career, he’s extremely grateful — both for the success he’s achieved thus far, and for those that continue to support him along the way.

“This is truly unreal,” he said. “I’m just happy that I have true fans out there.”

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.