The Windy City has been on a thrill ride during the last three years. After having many terrible and, at best, average seasons following the end of Jordan's reign atop the NBA, they struck gold.
Sensational, jaw-dropping, spectacular, but humble, gold. This gold has risen through the ranks at an astounding rate, shocking those around him.
Of course, this gold is Chicago's own Derrick Rose.
Think back to the 2008 draft lottery. The Chicago Bulls came in with only a 1.7 percent chance of getting the first overall pick, which many expected to be the talented forward out of Kansas State in Michael Beasley.
Beasley was a better fit for the Bulls, who already had Kirk Hinrich to play point guard. Tyrus Thomas and Tyson Chandler weren't the answer down low, and Michael Beasley had more versatility and had even outdone expectations at the combine.
But there was something about Derrick Rose. Being a Chicago native, it seemed right for him to go home to play ball. Fans loved the idea of a hometown player coming back to Chicago, but would it work with Kirk Hinrich?
Rose was viewed as a fast point guard with good driving and finishing abilities, but lacked a consistent mid-range and three-point game, along with sub par passing skills. Rose's leadership was also in question. Initially, it seemed as if the hometown player story was all over, but we all know what happened next.
Beasley went second overall to the Miami Heat and hasn't been too shabby during his career, averaging about 16 points and six rebounds per game, but hasn't progressed the same way Derrick Rose has.
After winning rookie of the year, Rose almost led the Bulls to an amazing playoff victory over the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics. In what was a thrilling series that featured seven overtime periods in seven games, the Celtics knocked the Bulls out of the playoffs with a 10 point victory in Boston. It was a coming out party for Derrick Rose, along with fellow point guard Rajon Rondo.
The trip didn't stop. During Rose's second year in the NBA, he became the first Bulls All-Star since Michael Jordan roamed the United Center.
Talk about being a top-five point guard in the league began circulating around the NBA community, giving the Bulls hope for the future.They played tough in a five-game series against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but ended up on the losing side. Rose was not happy.
All summer, Rose put in hours upon hours of work to fix his game. His deep shot wasn't threatening, so players could play relaxed defense on him, making it more difficult for Rose to get the quick step around the defender that you see so often today.
Then came the beginning of the 2010-2011 campaign. After the collaboration of talent met in Miami, the Bulls signed players such as Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans, Omer Asik and C.J. Watson, among others.
Coach Tom Thibodeau was brought in from Eastern Conference foe Boston. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah remained by Rose's side in the starting lineup, and fan favorite Hinrich was traded to Washington.
This team was expected to finish third in the East, most saying fourth or fifth; some even expected them to be in the lower quadrant of the East playoff picture. Rose was out to negate that thought, and he did.
Now, here we are, 80 games later. The Bulls are 60-20 and have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, with a slight chance at owning the title "Best in the NBA."
Who's to thank for that?
Well, first Tom Thibodeau, who deserves to be in strong contention for coach of the year, but then none other than Derrick Rose.
Take any player away from their team. Do any of them mean more than Derrick Rose to the Bulls?
Sure, the Heat may not be the No. 2 seed without LeBron James, but they're not falling to the eight seed. Maybe the Lakers don't own a top three spot in the West without Kobe, but they will still be a strong playoff contender.
Take Rose from Chicago; are they even in the playoffs? C.J. Watson and Keith Bogans are your guards with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer as your forwards and Joakim Noah playing center.
Noah and Boozer have rarely played together this season due to injuries, but Rose has carried them through it. Whenever the Bulls are down in the fourth quarter, Rose erases it or at least puts them in the best position they could be in to cap the comeback.
After making a courageous leap and hitting the floor hard, Rose gets back up while grimacing in pain. Does he stop? Absolutely not. He could stay on the floor, but even he knows that in order to reach victory, he must be on the court for his team. Not to mention he's averaging 25 points and eight assists per game while also playing strong defense.
Rose has taken the NBA by storm. He may not be the best player, although certainly throwing his name out there, but he is definitely the most valuable.
After such a long period of downtime for Chicago basketball, the city is now thriving with excitement for this team.
He has brought a face back to the organization, someone for kids to impersonate on and off the court. He's a leader, an unbelievable talent, a jaw-dropper, an MVP.