The prevailing thought is that Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls has the MVP award wrapped up. Despite that, there are many doubters questioning just how good he really is, and where he ranks in the NBA hierarchy.
Listening to the local sports radio station in Chicago, The Score, daytime host Dan Bernstein constantly rants that while Rose will win the MVP, LeBron James is undoubtedly the best player in the league.
Where is the love?
You would think he would get more in his hometown. Is the host saying that because he really believes it, or is he trying to get the phone lines to light up with irate Bulls' fans supporting their hero?
Even before he entered the league, LeBron was hyped as the "next big thing." Mature beyond his years (at least physically), LeBron took the league by storm and has been acknowledged by most as the best player in the game.
There are still Kobe backers, but he's getting a bit long in the tooth, and even his most ardent fans cannot deny that.
Dan Le Betard of the Miami Herald just wrote an article comparing Rose to Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He said they were basically the same player, seemingly giving a slight edge to Westbrook.
It seems people are reluctant to jump on the Derrick Rose bandwagon, not even acknowledging him as the best point guard. He's inched into the Top 10 in conversation about the best players in the league, and even Top 5 by some, but hardly anyone has come out with what seems obvious to me—he is the best player in the league.
There are even some holdouts saying they would still rather have the Celtics' Rajon Rondo than Rose, and it is as ridiculous writing it as it is hearing it.
What his so-called critics need to do is try watching him play, instead of looking at stat sheets.
Why is Rose not getting his due, and why do the most fervent NBA followers still worship at the throne of the "alleged King?"
The numbers don't really tell the whole story, though there is not a lot of difference between them.
LeBron is averaging 26.4 points per game, along with 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists. He's shooting .503 from the field, .336 from the 3-point line and .763 from the charity stripe.
Rose is putting up 24.9, pulling down 4.2 boards and dishing out 7.9 assists. He's at .439 from the field, .332 from the 3-point circle and .853 from the foul line.
LeBron has an advantage boarding, but he should with the size difference. He also has a distinct advantage from the field, but Rose is often called on to bail the team out while being double and triple-teamed. James has Wade and Bosh to dish to, so he is often in single coverage.
Rose has also turned into one of the best closers in the game. While LeBron often has the ball in his hands at the end of close games, most knowledgeable observers think Dwyane Wade is the better finisher.
Would LeBron James be as good as Derrick Rose if he were 6-2?
To put it into perspective, the Heat are 5-13 in games decided by five points or less, while the Bulls are 13-8.
In his last two games, Rose took over late to win close contests over Memphis and Milwaukee. He scored the last six points against the Grizzlies and either scored or assisted on the last 16 points the Bulls scored coming back to beat the Bucks.
He had a terrible game against Memphis, but when it mattered, he drove to the basket and put in a layup over 7'1", 265-pound Marc Gasol and drained it—despite getting fouled—to ice the game
Against Milwaukee, he made several highlight reel plays in the closing minutes and had the Bucks' Keyon Dooling making oh-my-God faces after one of Rose's moves while sitting on the bench.
You can watch a Bulls game and know just when Rose is going to take over, and the other team knows it too, but there is nothing they can do to stop him.
It reminds me of a scene in the classic film Billy Jack from the early 70s. He was a Green Beret war hero, and a small town with even smaller minds didn't appreciate him defending the students of a local alternative school.
He was surrounded in the park when he accompanied the kids to town, and just before a fight was about to start, the town boss Mr. Posner got out of a car and asked him if he thought "he could get away with his Green Beret karate tricks against all of these boys?"
Billy Jack responded, "Well, I guess I really don't have much of a choice, now do I?"
The townie acknowledged he didn't.
Billy Jack responded, "So, do you know what I think I'm going to do...I'm going to take my right foot and kick you on the left side of your face and you know what, there's not a damn thing you're going to be able to do about it."
Posner smirked before the foot landed on his face, just before he ended up on the ground.
Derrick Rose has the same attitude. He knows that no matter how many players on the other team are attempting to stop him, when he puts his mind to it, nobody can.
He has that killer gene that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had. LeBron, however, was standing in another line when they passed that out.
That brings me back to the issue at hand: size.
LeBron James is a physical freak, weighing more than his listed 250 pounds at 6'8".
Rose, despite what he is listed at, is really 6'2" and weighs about 190 pounds.
Even though he's significantly smaller, with his extraordinary speed and leaping ability, he plays much bigger than he is.
So it comes down to the age-old question—does size really matter? No, this is not an advertisement to enlarge a certain male member.
If Rose were the same size as LeBron James, don't you think he would be at least as good, if not better than he is right now?
But what about LeBron?
Can you see a 6'2" LeBron dominating teams the way he does now? Would he be able to overpower them if he was a point guard's size?
He might not be flipping burgers as somebody suggested when I mentioned this idea, but he certainly wouldn't be the force to be reckoned with he currently is thought to be.
Even though some might scoff at this idea, you have to think out of the box—especially when comparing players. I think it's a valid comparison to who the better player really is.
One player (Rose) just wants to win, while the other (LeBron) just wants to dance.
In this case, size does matter. The winner is Derrick Rose, because he has a much bigger heart.