On April 22, 2009, Derrick Rose won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. With this achievement, it capped a remarkable rookie season to behold. Someday, he could become a star in the NBA and take the league by storm.
And until now, I dreaded the thought of that.
I am a lifelong Bulls fan who only strayed from them when I was a young bandwagon fan. When my loyalties were once again focused on Chicago, they suddenly became a great team again. My heart leaped with joy when I saw they were marked to make the playoffs for three straight years.
In 2007, the Bulls earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, the best they've had for years. To top it off, they defeated the defending champions in a compelling sweep before falling to my bitter enemies, the Detroit Pistons. Regardless, this team was made.
The 2007-08 season came along. The Bulls struggled in the beginning. And then the Bulls management did the unthinkable:
They fired Scott Skiles. They fired one of the best up and coming coaches, and the Bulls faltered.
So then, my beloved Bulls had to play under some interim coach, and went 32-50, missing the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. It got so bad, that things could only get better for them. I at least hoped for that much.
My hopes came true after that. The Bulls participated in the 2008 NBA Draft lottery with a 1.7 percent chance of gaining the No. 1 pick. There was no way they could have gotten the top slot.
They emerged from the lottery with the No. 1 pick. I smiled that night.
Then, draft night came around. My heart was leaping, because my Bulls were on the verge of choosing a franchise star. In my mind I thought of only one player who could lead Chicago back to the promised land with little effort. He would solve the problem the Bulls had had for years.
And there was no way in Hell that Chi-town would want the Bulls.
My hopes were dashed the moment I heard of the pick. The Bulls did choose a stellar college player in the NBA draft that night. He had a high chance of being a great NBA player. There was no way it could have been Derrick Rose.
Derrick Rose left the ballroom that night wearing a Bulls draft cap. I scowled that night.
Now, before people start getting argumentative with me, just hear me out. First of all, as a sports fan, I like picks to be made when I'm 100 percent sure that they will benefit the team. This draft pick, while a good one, was not the best one. In my eyes, the Bulls wasted a pick.
Michael Beasley was a strong inside force, and I feel he had been underestimated. As a matter of fact, I still despise the Bulls bypassing him despite the full blown guarantee they had. Beasley went on to play 81 games with the Heat, and start 15 times this past season.
On top of that, there were other things that bothered me. First of all, the Rose pick looked like a publicity stunt for the city of Chicago. The hometown hero would remain the hometown hero, bringing in ticket sales for the franchise (this is fan speculation, of course, but it was logical to them). There was no true need for the Bulls to draft him, personnel-wise.
Then, I felt that players such as Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich were being blatantly disrespected. Given career years, Gordon and Hinrich could have donned All-Star uniforms had Skiles stayed. Their performances, along with those of their Bulls teammates, suffered because the impatient, hasty Bulls management fired a solid mentor for the team.
With Rose being drafted to replace the two, it was an insult. They had already proven to be good point guards. Hinrich was a solid passer, and good floor general. Ben Gordon scored like no other, and was a back court threat. It's not their fault that the system they played under was altered by Skiles' dismissal.
This was why I started to hate Derrick Rose so much.
And now, after this season, I'm hating that I love what the guy can do.
Throughout the season, Rose provided an athletic presence for the Bulls. He took over at point guard and never really looked back. He average 16.8 points and 6.3 assists per game. It's incredible for a 19-year-old to start for a pro team and do so well at his position.
Hell, I'll consider him reminiscent of LeBron's first year at Cleveland, or even Jordan's rookie season. Although his is a lofty third place behind the aforementioned, he's proven himself stellar.
Rose has no flaw. He's merely just a rookie with great skills. He proved this by leading the Bulls back to the playoffs. He proved this by winning the NBA Skills Challenge at All-Star weekend.
He displays it on the court when he drives through the lane for a layup. Every time he goes for a great play, he comes close, if not successfully. Rose has no flaw. And I hate to love him for that.
In Game One of the Bulls' first-round playoff series, I saw Rose lead the Chicago to its first-ever postseason win against the Boston Celtics. If one could take Michael Jordan's total of points, add it to Rose's total, and switch the digits around, you'd have what the latter did to the Celtics.
He dominated them that night, plain and simple. And I hate him for that.
On April 22, Rose won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. He deserved the honor. Who better than a young man who turned around a team to receive the Rookie of the Year award? I hate him for that.
Rose is a future star of the NBA. For this year, in his class of draftees, there's no one better than him. I wanted him to fail, but maybe he saw every scowl that I had for his success, and every cringe at the mention of his name.
He wanted to prove me wrong for that.
Someday, the Bulls will win a championship again. They'll no longer worry about being in the shadow of the golden days where the greatest player in history shaped the franchise's greatness by himself. And I doubt that Derrick Rose will not be the reason why they win it all.
And I'll love him for that...and hate him at the same time.