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‘Fab Five' Basketball Star Jalen Rose's Secret to Success: ‘Successful People Master the Morning'

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This story is part of the Top of the Game series, where CNBC Make It delves into the habits, routines and mindsets that top athletes use to achieve peak performance and success.

During his 13-year NBA career, Jalen Rose started each game with the same little whisper to himself: "I'm about to make a name for myself tonight."

Despite his massive success in college as part of the University of Michigan's early 1990s "Fab Five" — the first team in Final Four history to ever start five freshmen, often dubbed one of the NCAA's most iconic teams — Rose tells CNBC Make It that he had to prove himself every night in the NBA.

In the pros, he says, he had to regularly compete against Hall of Fame opponents like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. "I never went into a game and somebody said, 'Hey, Jalen, you're just as good as Michael Jordan,'" Rose says. "Those words have never been said."

To prepare himself, Rose says, he adopted a routine that he still implements today: He owns the morning. For him, accomplishing something between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. can foster success, specifically because most other people don't take advantage of that window.

"Sometimes, I feel like I have 25 hours in the day, and everybody else has 24," Rose says.

Rose, 48, retired from the NBA in 2007. He's now an ESPN basketball analyst and television host, and a New York Post columnist and podcaster. In 2011, he founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter school in his hometown of Detroit.

Here, Rose talks with CNBC Make It about his drive, his daily routine and the mindset he uses to succeed:

How Rose used his childhood to fuel his competitive drive

My biological father [Jimmy Walker] was the No. 1 pick in the 1967 NBA Draft. I never met him. He died in the late 2000s.

My goal was to be successful out of spite, so he would know my name. He wore the number 24, so when I got to high school, I picked the number 42.

I said to myself, "I'm going to make sure I'm a success story. Failure is not an option."

I would do whatever I had to do. I would play all day. I would train. I would constantly watch and consume the game. If I was going into the store, I'd be dribbling the basketball. I'd be out there playing with whatever age group at 8 a.m., in the middle of winter, shoveling snow off the basketball.

It consumed me. It became my life. I got down on my knees, multiple days [per week], and I prayed for the opportunity to make it to the NBA.

I'm extremely driven and I'm extremely competitive. These are things I like to say out loud, because young people sometimes think success is going to be easy.

You have to remember: There's going to be so much turbulence along the way before it actually happens. Even your family and friends will doubt you.

The key to Rose's morning routine: Starting the night before

I'll tell you a couple of my secrets.

No. 1: Successful people master the morning. Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., that's real estate that most people don't take advantage of. I'm like the Army: I do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.

You know when that starts? The night before. You can't master the morning if you're out all night. Just like how you charge up your phone and computer, you've got to do the same thing with your mind and emotions.

I'm fortunate enough to work on multiple shows. For ESPN, I do "NBA Countdown," "Get up" and "Jalen & Jacoby." For the New York Post, I write a column and I do a podcast. What allows me to do it all is that I get my rest, reinvest in my mind during the day and I master the morning.

I'm not going to act like I'm in bed every night at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., because it varies. But that's what allows me to continue to function at a high level.

No. 2: I create periods during the day when I'm not on my phone, looking at a television or talking to anyone. I take a lot of steam showers — I like to go in there and meditate. It's just me and my thoughts.

That gives me a chance to think, decompress, pray and plan.

The most important life lesson that Rose learned from basketball

The one thing I learned about growing up in the inner city is that it ain't all about you. I know you feel special. But when you start to approach life like you're not special, that changes your outlook.

I was always willing to work on my game — and also willing to lift somebody else up. [When I chose my] high school, I wasn't trying to be the man and average a lot of points. I went to the best program in the city of Detroit, led by [a coach named] Perry Watson, so he could be a father figure to me.

When I was young, I was a sore loser. Like, I will fight you if you beat me. Later, I grew from being a sore loser to: How can I be the best? Losing stinks, in all aspects of life, but there are always lessons.

Nobody's going to go undefeated. You're not going to make every shot. That's the one thing about basketball: You can miss a shot and have a turnover, and you can still play another game. You know that there's a favorite and an underdog, and you just have to go out there and compete and do the best you can.

Leave it all out there. If you lose the game, get ready for the next one.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Don't miss more from Top of the Game:

3-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy: Why being the best can be lonely, plus his hack to handle high pressure

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes: 'Defeat helps you more than success'

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