Last weekend, on a gorgeous spring Sunday afternoon, I was flipping the channels on my remote between the NFL Draft and the NBA playoff battle between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
At the end of the game, I came to the conclusion, that 15 years down the road, this magnificent double-overtime duel between the defending champions Celtics and the energetic Bulls will be aired numerous times on ESPN Classic.
However, what made this great theater, was not the heroic shots taken by Ray Allen of the Celtics, not the shooting prowess the Bulls' Ben Gordon, not even the brain freeze experienced by Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro when faced with making the proper adjustments every time Allen kept knocking down his three pointers, but it was the point guard play of Chicago Bulls “Rookie of the Year," Derrick Rose.
In the days leading up to last year’s draft. The debate amongst the basketball world, who should the Bulls select: the hard-nose play of the local Chicago product in Rose or the tough play of Michael Beasley?
Taking a look at the post-Jordan Chicago Bulls era, the organization had spent the better part of this decade signing and drafting the likes of Khalid El-Amin, Jay Williams and Kirk Hinrich to be their point guard of the future. Unfortunately, none of these options panned out as hoped.
But now, after drafting Derrick Rose, the Bulls have their floor general. Rose will, health permitting, will lead this franchise for the next 10 to 15 years.
What makes Rose a special basketball player is that he is fearless. He does not shy away from physical contact: this skill was on display in Game Three during the fourth quarter of the Bulls victory.
Rose, who was continually harassed by the Celtics defense, repeatedly went through the lane with complete disregard to his body to get his team the tough two points.
Del Negro confidence in this young warrior has resulted in Rose being given the reigns to control the tempo of the game. Rose has developed such good vision in such a short time that even the best defenders have a hard time containing him.
Rose is his own harshest critic of his on-court play: He told the ‘NBA on ESPN’ members, that this season he would have given himself a B-minus.
I can argue that point because since his first game, his game-play has improved dramatically. His average points-per game has never dipped below 15 for the entire year while he has averaged at least five assists or more on a nightly basis.
At the ripe age of 20, Rose is still growing into his body. Once he has physically matured, his game play will continue to improve. He will soon be apart of an elite fraternity of the best point guards in the NBA.
With Team USA winning Olympic gold at the Beijing Olympics, USA Basketball, will have to take a long look at Rose to be part of a team that is poised to win a second consecutive gold medal.
There should be no second thoughts, because by the time the 2012 arrives, Rose will be 23. By the 2016 Games roll around, Rose will be a ripe 27 years old entering the prime of his career to lead his country to another potential gold medal.
Even though the Bulls lost the deciding game in Boston, however, they have left a permanent mark on the NBA.
With Rose leading the way, and a roster that includes the maturing Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah. The upstart Bulls are slowly rising to prominence because now they have a point guard possessing the instinct to win.
They have developed a young, energetic, and exciting nucleus that are hungry to win. Remember, Michael Jordan and the Bulls teams of the late 80s took their lumps from the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons before they had any playoff success.
This year’s version of the Bulls, have experienced their first lumps that will make them better for the future.