The Chicago Bulls' 85-75 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday night was an unfamiliar sight for fans at the United Center.
It’s not just that the Bulls’ losses come few and far between. A loss is bound to come at some point in a seven game series against a team with three—well, two-and-a-half—superstars. Besides, a loss is nothing that a native of the Windy City can’t take.
However, through all the losing seasons and all the mediocrity since the Jordan days, the Bulls have rarely put together as gutless of a performance as they put together Wednesday night.
After Monday night, there were people who thought Chicago could come out of the Eastern Conference finals with a sweep. But after such an unemotional, effortless game, the Bulls could struggle to pull out another win.
Most importantly, Chicago’s superstar didn’t show up Wednesday night. Sure he was there in the form of 21 points, but Derrick Rose wasn’t the D-Rose we’ve become used to seeing at the Madhouse on Madison.
In just two short days, the “MVP” chants died down and the Lebron James comparisons came to a screeching halt. But ironically, Rose showed more of James in his play than he has at any other time this season.
Typically, Rose involves his teammates. He succeeds by making everyone else around him look better, thus making himself better in the process. He trusts his teammates, but knows when to take the ball himself.
Those are the qualities of an MVP.
However, on Wednesday night, Rose out-Lebroned Lebron James.
It’s ironic writing that with a negative connotation, but in reality, Rose became a worse player by stooping to the level of the superstar everyone is trying to compare him to.
James tries to do everything himself. He had to in Cleveland and has carried that mentality to Miami, as he only trusts himself and Dwayne Wade to make a play when his team needs it most. He’s a tremendous athlete and undoubtedly one of the best players in NBA history.
But his one flaw is that he doesn’t get the best out of his teammates. Consequently, he may always be known as the “No Ring King.”
These days, success is based on titles. That isn’t to say James will be a failure if he never wins an NBA Championship, but he can never be compared to Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant if he doesn’t.
However, James could not win a title on his own. He was a one-man show in Cleveland, never figuring out how to get the best out of his teammates. He may win a championship as a member of the Big Three, but he can never be a legend.
For Derrick Rose, the opportunity to become a legend in his hometown is still a real possibility. Heck, as premature as it might be, he has already drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan.
Rose has grown to that stature because of his ability to utilize he teammates, something he seemingly forgot Wednesday night. He forced shots, tried to make plays out of nothing, and lost all of the energy that he typically feeds his teammates.
It was a completely different playing style—a Lebron James playing style—and it ended with a loss and shift in momentum.
That selfish, do-everything-yourself playing style works for some players (i.e. James), but it's not what got the Bulls a No. 1 seed and a spot in the Eastern Conference finals and it's certainly not what got Derrick Rose his MVP trophy and Jordan-like status in Chicago.
The Bulls' chances in Game 3 and the series lie on Rose's shoulders, but his success in creating plays for his teammates will be far more valuable than trying to do everything himself.
Derrick Rose will never be Lebron James; neither is better than the other, they're just different players.
But if Rose finishes out this series the way he played the entire season—making everyone around him better—he has a chance to be what James never can be.