Wednesday, November 26, 2008

rose rose rose

bill simmons summarizes things nicely -

1. Has Derrick Rose exceeded every conceivable expectation?

Yes, yes and yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Unequivocally, 100 percent, yes. As God as my witness, yes. May I get struck down by lightning if I'm lying, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes yes yes. Allow me these three points:

A. His worst-case scenario ceiling? Micheal Ray Richardson without the coke problem. (And if you don't think that's a big deal, remember that a clean Sugar knocked the Fo-Fo-Fo Sixers out of the '84 playoffs by himself.) As for the best-case scenario ... I can't jinx it so I won't go there. Just know that I wouldn't change a single thing about his game other than giving him a reliable jump shot (which should come soon), which doubles as the craziest thing about Rose right now: He's beating guys off the dribble WHO ARE ALREADY PLAYING OFF HIM BY FIVE FEET!!!!!! Do you realize how absurd that is?

B. I always judge players by one question: Would I like playing with him? And I'd love to play with Rose ... too bad I was washed up 10 years ago. But to watch Rose's unselfishness slowly rub off on such a messed-up, immature, overpaid, poorly coached, terribly put-together Bulls team has been one of the most random shockers of this season, right up there with Vince Carter looking like Vintage VC again; Jason Thompson being a great pick; Jason Kidd morphing into a Nash-like defensive liability; Marc Gasol being semi-competent; the poor Hawks fans getting suckered in by one of Flip Murray's infamous November hot streaks; the fact that Alexis Ajinca could ever get drafted in the top 20 of an NBA draft; and Tim Thomas being involved in a trade that was delayed because someone else had a heart problem.

Because of Rose (and to a lesser extent, Vinny Del Negro's ongoing Shooter/"Hoosiers" routine which continues to deliver the goods comedically), the '09 Bulls became one of my go-to DirecTV teams even though I can't stand watching 80 percent of the guys on the team. Remember the days when we were worried that we wouldn't have an adequate starting point guard for the USA Olympic Team? Now we have Paul, Williams AND Rose? Holy schnikes.

With Rose, Chicago is no longer the Unwatcha-bulls.

C. I can't think of another sports example to match this one: Bulls GM John Paxson completely butchering an unbutcherable (I just made up that word) situation in Chicago, heading towards the chopping block, then getting bailed out at the last minute by 1.5-percent odds in the 2008 lottery. This was nothing less than a GM Death Row pardon. Incredibly, they still have one of the five worst roster situations in the league -- Ben Gordon will leave treadmarks fleeing after the season, Andres Nocioni, Luol Deng and Larry Hughes have unwieldy/untradeable contracts, and two high lottery picks (Ty Thomas and Joakim Noah) look like ninth men at best. But none of it matters because of Rose. If I were Paxson, I would hug him every time I saw him. Right now, Derrick Rose is like a $500,000 Maybach parked in the driveway of a $200,000 house in the middle of nowhere. Let's hope we still aren't saying that in three years.

But Rose isn't about to hand anyone a reason to doubt him, or doubt Englewood, which he has tattooed on his left forearm. At Simeon High School, he won all but 12 of his 132 games. Then he went to Memphis and helped the Tigers to a 38-2 season. (He still winces at the mention of helping Kansas win the NCAA title when he missed one of two free throws with 10.8 seconds left in OT.) When he was drafted by the Bulls, Memphis coach John Calipari warned his rookie counterpart, Vinny del Negro: "Tell that kid he's not going to win 82 games. Because he doesn't know that. He's never had a losing streak."

new rookie rankings ... guess who's #1??

At Golden State on Friday night, Rose turned the ball over on a bad pass with 10:36 remaining in the third quarter. At that point he had hit just one field goal and looked out of sorts while playing cautiously.

Twenty-one seconds later, he blew into the lane and made an "and 1" shot, plus the free throw. Suddenly, you could almost see the light come on as he realized that no one on the Warriors could defend him. On the next possession, he hit a 10-foot jumper in transition and dominated the action from there. He carried the Bulls on offense, making seven straight shots on his way to 25 points and a Bulls win.

It's the same for all young players: Sometimes they allow their confidence to come from their current on-court success rather than their cumulative production. Rose will learn from that experience as he continues to find that few players can control him, even if he starts out cold from the field.

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