Rose, a Chicago native, was one of two players the Bulls worked out. Chicago decided to go with Rose over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley. Team executives pondered the decision for the past week.
If the Bulls didn't draft him with the No. 1 pick, Rose said he'd be crushed.
"Everything would be perfect, it would be a dream come true, I swear," Rose said last Thursday at the Bulls' practice facility. "I'll probably faint if they call my name, I'll need a paramedic close by."
Bulls general manager John Paxson said Rose is a leader.
"With Derrick, he's a special talent at a position that you can have him at for the next 10 to 12 years and feel very good about it," Paxson said after his workout last week.
Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the six-game run through the NCAA Tournament. Memphis lost to Kansas in the championship game.
Rose is going home, and a whole bunch of freshmen are following him to the NBA.
For the first time in NBA draft history, college freshmen were selected with the first three picks of the draft Thursday night.
After he was picked, the 6-foot-3 guard put on a red Bulls cap, hugged some supporters, including Memphis coach John Calipari, and shook hands with Beasley, seated at a nearby table, before walking onto the stage to meet NBA commissioner David Stern.
"I was a little nervous when they came back out, but I always had that in mind that I want to be No. 1," Rose said. "So it was great hearing my name and being the No. 1 pick."
Beasley didn't have to wait long to hear his name called, though. The Miami Heat picked him with the No. 2 overall pick and hope to add some bulk to a frontline that was weakend by a mid-season trade of Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns. He'll join former All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion as the Heat try to rebound from a 15-67 record, worst in the Eastern Conference.
Rose is the first player taken No. 1 overall by Chicago since it selected Elton Brand in the 1999 NBA draft. Rose joins a Bulls' backcourt that already boasts veterans Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Larry Hughes and second-year player Thabo Sefolosha.
Rose should be an upgrade over Hinrich, who now could be traded, and gives the Bulls another option if they don't re-sign guard Ben Gordon.
Expected to contend for a division title, the Bulls instead stumbled to a 33-49 record and eventually replaced two coaches. But with just a 1.7 percent chance, they won last month's draft lottery, giving them a chance to quickly return to the playoffs.
"It feels great to go in and compete," Rose said. "I'm just blessed to be in that position right now, because a lot of people aren't. And just knowing that we are a few pieces away from really contending as a team, it just makes me happy."
Beasley is the first Kansas State player taken in the first round since Mitch Richmond was chosen fifth overall in 1988. Debate raged for weeks on whether the Bulls would pick Rose or Beasley first, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says Miami was easily convinced it would pick Beasley.
"For the last five or six weeks we did some extreme research and checked his background and we felt really comfortable," Spoelstra said. "If he was available we knew in the last few days we were going to pick him. "There was so much speculation out there that it got a little humorous. We got criticized for bringing people in but we were doing our job. We were just ready for different scenarios."
Questions surrounding Beasley's maturity were also a popular topic heading into the draft, but Spoelstra said the Heat were impressed with Beasley's off-court attitude.
"On the court he's what we're looking for. He just has a magnetic personality, a million-dollar smile. He's really at ease while sitting with the coaches. Michael is a mature young guy, a highly intelligent guy. He's very perceptive. And he asked very mature questions."
Beasley, for his part, was just glad to be selected.
"With so many trade rumors, I didn't know where I would end up. I couldn't sleep at all," Beasley said. "I'll be down there -- in Miami -- by myself. I'm gonna be me. It's a lot of stuff I can fall into but I'm just gonna live my life."