Before anyone takes my head off for comparing Derrick Rose to the best player who ever lived, Michael Jordan, give me a chance to tell you why.
They're a lot more alike than you think, and it's not because they both played for the Chicago Bulls.
Remember Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech, where he dissed everyone from the high school coach who cut him, to the Hall of Famers who iced him out in his first All-Star game in 1985?
He even tweaked his beloved coach at North Carolina, Dean Smith, for telling Sports Illustrated to keep him off the cover as a freshman, while including the other four starters.
Jordan never forgot anyone dissing him, whether real or imagined, and payback was a bitch.
Is it any wonder he won six NBA championships with what he used to motivate him?
It seems like a generation later, Derrick Rose is using similar means to an end.
After beating the Toronto Raptors Saturday night, Rose told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that the Bulls owed them for a road loss in February, where the Raptors were laughing on the bench late in the game.
That's not the first time he has said something like that this year.
After humiliating Atlanta by 33 points recently, Rose mentioned an earlier game they played, when the Bulls blew a big half time lead and lost, as motivation to bury them this time.
Rose dropped 30 points and 10 assists on them that night.
He put up 36 and 10 against Toronto Saturday in a game that also included three blocked shots, one of which was the most spectacular you will ever see, when he raced from behind after his turnover and rejected James Johnson's shot.
You could see the look of determination on his face as he ran back and erased the shot, turning it into another SportsCenter highlight.
He was angry at himself for the turnover on that one, but it doesn't matter where he gets his motivation from. The important thing is that he seems to find the stimulus needed that has transformed him from a very good player into a superstar and certain MVP this season.
When he missed the second free throw against the Clippers earlier this season with no time remaining that cost the Bulls the game, he vowed that would never happen again. Since that time, he's been one of the most accurate free throw shooters in the league.
Like Jordan, Rose has a memory like an elephant. He doesn't forget.
While he's more quiet and not as outgoing as MJ, he has that rare blend of off-the-charts athleticism along with a killer instinct second-to-none.
Since Jordan came into the league, players were being compared to him, from Harold Minor, who was called 'Baby Jordan,' to Kobe Bryant, who copied his speech pattern and mannerisms.
While Kobe is the only one of the pretenders who has attained superstar and icon status, the 22 year old Rose reminds me of Jordan because of the fire that burns inside of him.
He also has the same work ethic. He practices harder than anyone, something that Jordan was legendary for. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave.
His acceptance of Tom Thibodeau as the new coach is what has driven this team to heights no one thought possible before the season started. It's still conceivable they could end up with the best record in the league.
Thibodeau is as hard on him as he is anyone else on the team and Rose loves it, because he wants to do whatever he can to win. That seems to be the only thing that matters to him.
While Michael liked the lights and glamor, including wagering a kings ransom, Rose is a homebody who likes staying in watching TV and playing video games. He's also cheap with a dollar. Not in a Scottie Pippen (no tipping way); just not throwing his money away and spending foolishly.
He's already the second best player in the history of the Bulls. Scottie Pippen couldn't hold a candle to him.
He will never be Michael Jordan, because that's an aspiration that is unattainable, even for him. While he might not win six rings, it's likely he will win multiple championships before his career is over.
There are only a few games left in the season, and the Indiana Pacers are on a path to play the Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs.
I can only imagine what is going through Rose's head remembering the Pacers outlasting the Bulls 115-108 in overtime the last time they played despite Rose tying his career-high with 42 points.
Whatever he's thinking, I wouldn't want to be Indiana once he sets his sights on them in the playoffs.