Derrick Rose has shown he can carry a team into the postseason nearly single-handed. Carlos Boozer is looking less and less like he was worth $80 million, so Rose had to elevate his game a little more than he could muster against the Miami Heat.
Chicago is a town of superstars. Michael Jordan, Sammy Sosa and Frank Thomas are the most recent huge names that have come through the Windy City and Derrick Rose may be the next. But is he good enough to carry a team like Jordan did? Or does he need to be a second banana like Pippen?
Michael Jordan had an unmatched competitive streak that only Kobe Bryant has truly shown and he has not been able to sustain it full time. Winning matters to Rose, he has made that clear: "We got to win. Win no matter what. Trip, kick somebody, fight, bite. Whatever. Win." He is willing to go the extra mile.
But can a point guard be the alpha dog on a championship team? There has been precedent for it. Isiah Thomas was the undoubted leader of the Bad-Boy Detroit Pistons of the late-1980's. The question of whether Magic Johnson can truly be considered a point guard or a point forward can be mentioned as well. The case with those teams is that both were surrounded by talent at all four other positions.
It was a different era. There was less expansion. Teams were deep. Today it is a huge deal to have three stars come together. That was the expectation in the 1980's. Michael Jordan changed that.
To be clear: Michael Jordan had talent around him but he made some of that talent look much better than it was. B.J. Armstrong found that out. So too did Horace Grant. It would make sense that a point guard would be the best position to make his teammates better.
But Rose isn't a traditional point guard and he doesn't have a consistent second option. Boozer was supposed to be that guy. Joakim Noah will never be that guy. The shooting guard position is non-existent offensively. Luol Deng could be that guy but is too inconsistent.
Rose would need a solid secondary guy, but what is more likely is that this is the 1994 and 1995 Bulls all over again. Scottie Pippen was a stud but he just didn't have that extra gear to push the team over the edge. Maybe losing will toughen Rose's resolve but more likely the Bulls need a real alpha dog and that would let Rose be what he is supposed to be, a distributor and a great second option.