Last year, there was not a mouth-spouting about the NBA in which perennial descendant of the basketball gods themselves, Derrick Rose, was not mentioned. In the 2010-11 season, Rose was the NBA for multiple reasons, but none broader than the fact that he was the most explosive player that the league had seen in a long time.
Combining his athleticism with his sheer will to win and his humility inside and outside the locker-room was made for a regular season award like the MVP, but he will not be so fortunate to capture that role this season.
LeBron James, the most criticized, probably most hated (behind Kris Humphries) player in the league, is stepping out of the shadows, and with Dwyane Wade benched during one of his better games of the season, James is taking over Miami.
If you ever felt as if he would not live up to the hype, this is the season, as strained as it may be, when James will prove himself to any and everyone who thought he could not meet the public’s standards. Yes, there are still some doubters waiting for him to be beheaded by a swift dunk from Blake Griffin or knocked down off of his pedestal in the clutch by a Carmelo Anthony three.
However, those wishes are going to have to take a backseat to his points average of 29.9 and his highest-scoring game of 35 points coming in a tight matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats.
The spotlight was taken away from James because of Dwyane Wade’s clutch seven-footer to win the game and Superman celebration towards Charlotte’s own Cam Newton, but don’t forget who carried them all the way to that moment.
It was partly the focus on LeBron in the corner that netted Wade the lack thereof and left him able to make that shot with slight ease.
Not to say that no one is paying much attention to Rose, but last year was sprung on fans as something we had not seen before. Sports fans are always looking for the developing story. Old headlines bore us darn near to death, and nothing is more of a drag than continually praising the same man for accomplishments he has previously achieved.
This is part of what plagued LeBron’s MVP chances last season, and it is what will cripple Rose’s chances this year.
Everyone loves a good, clean-cut and disciplined kid. What makes Rose so exemplary is his maturity at his age, but there are still some spots of his game that must be cleaned up. After rising to the top of the league in almost everyone’s polls, Rose will be faced with the nitpicking that comes along with the top.
Does he shoot too much? Is he a better passer or a better scorer? Can he really lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA Finals and win?
These are all unanswered questions that fans are still contemplating, and an eight-point showing against the Atlanta Hawks will not allow the scrutiny to mellow out at any time, sooner or later.
LeBron, on the other hand, is making statements in almost every game he has played in. Notice I used the words "played in," because the only game in which he scored under 25 points was in the second meeting against the Charlotte Bobcats (Miami by 39) and the second meeting in which the Miami Heat faced the Atlanta Hawks, where LeBron did not play.
James’ latest subtraction from his game, the primarily horrendous three-point attempts, have allowed him to do exactly what critics have been imploring the small forward to do.
Barrel over defenders and score in the paint!
The improvements are obvious, and LeBron is being spotlighted as one of, if not the primary reason for Miami’s early success.
Of course, those surrounding him, such as the captain of the team, Dwyane Wade, guard Mario Chalmers, Chris Bosh and rookie Norris Cole have also been named in their ongoing pace. But it is undoubtedly so that without LeBron this team could not stay afloat.
Derrick Rose is still an exceptional basketball player. Hell, any team would be lucky to have him.
I bet any team would trade for him if there was even an inkling of a possibility the Chicago Bulls would allow him to walk away.
But some of Rose’s luster has been lost in the melee of new players coming up, stale franchises becoming relevant and struggling franchises showing sparks of hope.
Rose has not been mentioned as much as he was last season, and that would have a lot to do with all of the changes made in the preseason, such as Chris Paul’s addition to the Clippers, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown’s removal from the Lakers and other huge changes that have impacted franchises.
The Bulls are standing sturdy. But while they are looking to make strides toward the postseason with only minor cuts and burns to their overall record, there are other, more interesting focal points in the league that have fans’ attention drifting.
Derrick Rose will come out as a casualty of the “we want it now” mentality, while LeBron James cascades to the top of the races for embracing his role and playing like a big boy.
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