NBA: Would Derrick Rose Have Halted the Miami Heat's Championship Season?
The Chicago Bulls, led by Rose, appeared to be the most apparent roadblock for the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.
The Bulls finished the regular season with a 50-16 record, tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA.
There's no questioning LeBron James's incredible performance in the NBA Finals.
The three-time NBA MVP averaged 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists, and finally established himself as an NBA champion.
Did LeBron James and the Miami Heat earn their title?
The answer to that question is an emphatic yes, and I'm simply not here to dispute that.
The Heat were the first team in NBA playoff history to trail in three consecutive series and still manage to win the title.
LeBron James overcame adversity in his final three series, which was arguably symbolic of the adversity he's been facing from the moment he and the Miami Heat lost in last year's NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
Would the Bulls have beaten the Miami Heat in the ECF?
Yet, the No.1 team in the Eastern Conference was gone in the first round after its star player suffered an injury that was hard to watch.
It was hard to watch not only because we saw one of the great players in this league in excruciating pain, but also because we saw one of the great NBA teams miss out on a playoff run.
There's no guaranteeing where the Chicago Bulls would have gone. Who knows if they would have even made it past the Philadelphia 76ers?
Even so, is it wrong to wonder what if?
LeBron and company appeared to be somewhat vulnerable in rounds two and three of this year's postseason.
The Heat lost two straight to the Indiana Pacers after Chris Bosh was sidelined with an oblique injury, but James was able to right the ship by offering up three consecutive dominant performances and winning the series.
Miami then went on to a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, followed by three consecutive losses. Once again, James took it upon himself to carry his team, and gave a legendary Game 6 performance on his way to a series victory.
As the great Rudy Tomjanovich said, "Never underestimate the heart of a champion," and the Boston Celtics certainly lived up to that quote.
Conversely, the Celtics were forced to a Game 7 in each of the first two rounds against the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. It's safe to say that Boston's performance against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals was equal parts impressive and surprising.
If the tired Boston Celtic legs were replaced by Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, it may have been a different outcome.
The Chicago Bulls split the regular season series with the Miami Heat over four games, and the teams matched up well with each other.
There's no question the Bulls would have loved to have avenged their Eastern Conference finals loss to the Miami Heat last season, but there are no time machines. The Miami Heat are NBA champions.
The one certainty is that Derrick Rose and the Bulls have no time to look back, and will be focusing on improving as a unit and continuing to play quality basketball next season.
With the recent news that Derrick Rose's rehab is reportedly ahead of schedule, Bulls fans can look forward to their team making a deep run into next year's playoffs.
For now, LeBron James will continue to enjoy his first Larry O'Brien trophy and the anticipation of receiving his first entirely excessive NBA championship ring.
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