This is full circle.
Early Monday morning in the Englewood section of the South Side of Chicago, and Murray Park is alive. There’s the dude who just got out a week ago, Obama tattoo on his right bicep and cell-block muscles on every other visible inch of him. There’s the busty chick with two different hairstyles on her head and a pair of Nefertiti-like eyes tatted on her breasts. There’s the tall dude with four gold chains and waves that would put any R&B singer to shame. A couple of older female cops mill around, but they don’t seem too worried about anyone here. Little boys wearing basketball shorts and wide-eyed stares come through. And lots of teenage girls, armed with camera phones, trying to get a snapshot of the young man who isn’t much older than them, the man everybody is here to see: Derrick Rose.
The 20-year-old star of the Chicago Bulls is the prince of these streets. Born and raised a couple of blocks away from the park over on 75th Street, this is the court where Derrick threw up his first jumper and honed the crossover that would later drop NBA point guards on their asses. This grass field is where he began his comically brief baseball career, hurling fastballs and robbing base hits. This sidewalk on the West side of the fence is where he used to race his friends, sprinting up and down the block, sometimes with no shoes on, showing off the speed that would later carry him past Chris Paul and Deron Williams on the game’s most hallowed courts. In the summer of 2008, more than 200 people gathered at the park to barbeque, play ball, and listen to the radio as the Bulls chose Derrick with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
“It’s a game. I don’t look at any game like it’s just a pickup game or anything like that. It’s a game, and I’m always trying to win,” Derrick says. “All I wanna do is win. That’s the only thing, that and getting better, no matter how you do it. How many points you get, assists, whatever … that’s not important. There was a spell this year where we lost like five or six games in a row, and that didn’t feel good at all. I had to talk to a couple people — my brothers, my mom. I’m glad they were there for me, ’cause it’s hard when you lose games. It gets to you. So people that’s losing like 20, 30-something games in a month or two, I can’t do that.”
And just like his monotone post-game interviews during that series, where he seemed almost bored by the whole thing, today he still doesn’t talk it up too much. Asked to reminisce on the series, he talks more about mistakes he made and turnovers he wishes he could do-over. On the day of this photo shoot, the Lakers and Magic are in the middle of the NBA Finals; Derrick says he hasn’t watched the playoffs since his team was knocked out.
“We’re not in it, so it’s like, what’s the point? It’s too hard to watch,” Derrick says.
“He beats himself up,” Reggie says. “He can win the game, but he’s thinking about the layup he missed, or the pass somebody stole, or when he saw the ball on the floor and didn’t get to it. Even in AAU, I had to be like, ‘Derrick, forget about it.’ It’s hard for him to let go. He just wants to be perfect.”
Deng at PF? -
For the purposes of this post, I'm going to go ahead and say that the Bulls best five players are Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah (albeit not necessarily in that order). I don't think this is too outlandish of a statement, and if we can all agree on that, then the following blurb will make more sense.
It's almost never a bad idea to get your five best players on the floor at the same time. You never want to make your depth chart too wonky; ideally, your depth covers all positions and all matchups, with no highly exposable weaknesses and a modicum of talent to be found at every position. As any drunken trampolinist will tell you, balance is key.
Unfortunately, the Bulls depth chart is not particularly even. Noah is a centre, Hinrich and Rose are best as point guards, and both Salmons and Deng are better at small forward. The Bulls have no natural two guard, a small forward surplus, and one of the weakest power forward rotations in the league. It's a big hole we have there.
And the answer may just lie in house.
TrueHoop's Thursday Bullets -
A report that Derrick Rose's SATs could be at the center of a disaster for college basketball in Memphis. Worth noting: NOBODY in the NBA cares about his SATs, right? So why's it such a big deal to the NCAA? By any objective measure his college experience was a success, in terms of preparing him to become a successful professional athlete. But the NCAA, of course, has to maintain the illusion that he was actually a serious student, and for that, SATs matter.
A look back at a bunch of links from before game 7 of last season's epic Bulls/Celtics series -
Game 7 Preview
Well what can you say about this series?! Should we expect another OT thriller? Why not, right?!
Should we expect repercussions against Rondo for his (a) trip of Kirk in Game 5, (b) punch of Brad Miller in Game 5, (c) throw of Kirk into the scorer's table, (d) throw of an elbow at Kirk?
Answer: (e) None of the above! Congrats Boston fans, you've cheated your way into a Game 7.
Oh, one of your players is hurt?! I hadn't heard about that. Good thing the Bulls are completely healthy instead of missing a starter (Deng), having 2 starters playing hurt (BG and Salmons) and our best 2 bench players dealing with stitches because of your dirty, scumbag little PG.
In actuality, it's tough to complain about this series. It's been an absolute pleasure to watch as a basketball fan, and an epic-thrilling-each-game-could-give-me-9-heart-attacks-roller-coaster-ride to watch as a Bulls fan.
Bulls best post-MJ season: 2004 or 2008? -
I was attempting to come up with a top 10 list of the best moments for a Bulls fan post Jordan, and what I found was that virtually every moment on my list came from either the 2004/5 season or the 2008/9 season. This prompted me to consider the similarities of the seasons as well as whch one was more enjoyable.
In 2004, the Bulls played the whole season as the cardiac kids winning most games and playing them all close. After a 3-14 start, the Bulls finished 44-21, a pace which would have been good for 55+ wins if they could have maintained it throughout a season. In 2008, the Bulls entered the all-star break at 23-30. They finished the season 18-11, a pace which would give them 50+ wins if they are able to maintain it this season. Both seasons gave you great play down the stretch with reason to be excited for the next year.
In 2004, the Bulls acquired a new hero. Ben Gordon scored over 10 points in the fourth quarter 21 times. Second only to LeBron James on route to winning the 6th man of the year award and prompting the moniker 4th quarter Gordon. Despite his heroics at times, he was plagued by turnovers, inconsistency, bad defense, and long cold stretches.
When Derrick Rose jumped on the scene in 2008 he had many remarkable performances early on in the season willing the team to victories on the circus trip against Utah and Golden State while looking absolutely unstoppable. Rose went on to win rookie of the year, and the heart of Bulls fans. However, much like Gordon, he was also plagued by inconsistency, struggling with assertiveness and defense for long stretches during the year.