They are two of the most beloved athletes the city of Chicago has ever had.
One is considered, by some, to be the best player in the NBA today; the other is considered, by many, to be the best player to ever play the game.
They are Chicago Bulls stars Derrick Rose and Michael Jordan—but is it too soon to start using both their names in the same sentence?
One could certainly say so, as MJ has left a legacy so enriched, so remarkable, that Rose could be left in the dust when it's all said and done.
Regardless of where they stand today, both players are certainly the best to ever play in the Windy City.
Jordan was about as popular of a player as you could become in the NBA during his 15-year career in the league, but with Rose rising fast to NBA stardom, could he eventually match the popularity that No. 23 has throughout the city?
For a more in-depth look, here is a breakdown of both NBA superstars:
Where to begin?
The former third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft certainly was part of a successful draft class that featured Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.
Coming out of the University of North Carolina, Jordan exceeded all expectations his rookie year, averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists, playing in all 82 regular season games.
For 13 NBA seasons, Jordan gave the city of Chicago an icon like no other.
When an NBA fan thinks of Chicago Bulls basketball, even today they can't help but picture No. 23 soaring through the air on a dunk, or simply smiling—loving every minute of his Hall of Fame career.
Really, who wouldn't want to be like Mike?
Jordan certainly left a lasting impression on the NBA.
Sure, there are his historic stats:
- 1st in NBA history averaging 30.1 points per game in his career.
- 3rd in NBA history with 32,292 career points scored.
Then his accolades:
- Five time MVP.
- 14-time NBA All-Star.
- Three time NBA All-Star MVP.
- 10-time All-NBA First Team.
- Nine time All-Defensive First Team.
But putting the stat books aside, Jordan left an even bigger impression of himself; not as a player, but as an American icon.
He is essentially one of the greatest athletes we have seen in the history of American sports.
Let's put it this way; the number 23 has gotten a lot of recognition since the 1990s, and hasn't been looked at the same way since MJ wore it in Chicago.
Let's not forget about Jordan's championship rings—six of them, to be exact.
In his 15-year NBA career, Jordan joined the likes of Hall of Famers Bob Cousey, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and teammate Scottie Pippen as the only players in NBA history with six NBA championships.
His first title came in his seventh year in the league, in 1991; and his next five were part of a stretch run through the 1990s that no Chicago fan will ever forget.
One must wonder if Derrick Rose and the Bulls can even come close to Jordan's historic championship mark over the next decade.
If Rose wants to start comparing himself to MJ, he'd better move fast, and win the NBA championship this season. In winning an NBA title this year, he would win a championship faster than Jordan did—in only his third year in the league.
Destiny came full circle in 2008, when the Bulls not only miraculously landed the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, but took their hometown star Derrick rose with the first pick as well.
Come on, who could have scripted a better story?
A Chicago native, went to high school in the city, playing for the team he grew up watching, his idol Michael Jordan?
Sounds like it was destiny for Rose to become the heir apparent to Jordan in Chi-Town.
From the moment the Bulls drafted the young phenom, we all knew Rose would become something special not only in the city of Chicago, but in the entire NBA as well.
Just like Mike did, Rose started playing like the top player he was in college right out of the gate in the NBA.
So much so, in fact, that he took home top honors as the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Not only did he win the award, but he almost won unanimously; receiving 111 first place votes out of a possible 120.
During his first year, Rose averaged 16.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, where he also shot a respectable 47.5 percent from the floor.
It may have been a title Michael Jordan won with the Bulls 23 years prior during his 1985 rookie season, but Rose certainly put himself in the same conversation with Jordan from the start—winning the award and making even the small percentage of doubters rethink the great possibilities.
There is no doubt that Rose is the clear frontrunner to win the NBA MVP this season.
He has led the Bulls to post the best record in the Eastern Conference at 54-20.
In just his third year in the league, Rose has set career highs in points per game (25.0), rebounds (4.2), and assists (7.9). His 25 points and 7.9 assists per game also rank as the fifth highest average in all of the Eastern Conference.
With only eight games remaining in the regular season, he still has a legitimate shot at surpassing 2,000 points for the first time this year, needing just 177 points to reach the mark.
And if that wasn't enough for you to give him the award, the 22 year old has also had two big career games this season, scoring a career-high 42 points Feb. 17 vs. San Antonio, and a career high 17 assists this past Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Rose smells like the clear MVP to me.
So, does Rose have a shot at gaining the same kind of popularity as Jordan in the Windy City?
As it stands today, I don't think so.
Sure, Rose can go on and win three, four, or even five NBA titles, but let's be realistic here; Jordan has set the bar way too high to put himself below Rose in any category.
Don't get me wrong, Rose is probably the NBA's fastest growing young phenom, but chances are that he will never reach the same kind of level as MJ in his career.
While he very well could be a Hall of Famer in the making, Rose will always be next in line to the game's greatest player.
There is room for only one No. 1 in Chicago, and while Rose currently wears No. 1 for the Bulls, that title and popularity will always belong to Michael Jordan over any other player to put on a Bulls uniform.