I love Derrick Rose. I love his game, of course, and his leadership. I love that he’s added a jump shot this year to complete his offensive arsenal. I also love his humility, professionalism, and work ethic. I love the 28 points he chipped in last night to the greatest victory for the Bulls since 1998. I already love Derrick Rose more than anyone else who’s ever worn a Bulls jersey that didn’t have a 23 or 33 on it.
But he’s not really the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
It’s not because he wasn’t necessarily the best player in the league this season, and it’s certainly not because the Bulls are overrated. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals put that notion to bed.
Rose isn’t the most valuable because the rest of the players around him are too damn good.
There is an MVP argument that goes, “Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls would be terrible! They probably wouldn’t even make the playoffs!”
This difference-maker argument is recited year after year to try to demonstrate why a given P is the MV. It often is a very potent point to make. It was last year, and even more so in 2009, about LeBron and the Cavs. That logic was validated in the King-less Cavs’ 19-win season.
The fact is the Bulls have the deepest, most well-balanced roster in the NBA. They play superb team defense, tops in the league in opponent scoring. There are no real weak links for opposing teams to attack (except when Kyle Korver is on the floor). More importantly, the contribution of the Bulls’ bench is starting to border on historic.
Did Game 1 change your mind about the Eastern Conference Finals?
Korver announced his presence with authority, drilling a game-winner in the postseason opener against the Pacers. Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson have also taken their turns to make the big shot or steal. Omer Asik (and Destroy!) is growing into a force right before our eyes. And as of the end of Game 1 against the Heat, Taj Gibson has made the basketball world literally stand up and take notice (twice actually—posterizing D-Wade and then putting the ‘!’ on the win).
The top-heavy Heat may be a historic unit in their own right, but they really do rely on the superlative value of their two (and sometimes three) biggest stars. The Bulls are a 10-man wrecking crew, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since at least the turn-of-the-century era Sacramento Kings.
I love Derrick Rose, but not like Michael and Scottie. Not yet. That’s six-time NBA Champs love. Derrick has to bring home a different kind of hardware to win that from Bulls fans. Still, after watching the Bench Mob in Game 1, I’ve got goose bumps like I haven’t felt in 13 years. It seems the reigning MVP may not even have to play like one to become a champion.