A Few Words on Derrick Rose, 2010-2011 NBA MVP
Goin' back to where it all began....
The first time this picture of my buddy Scott and Simeon point guard Derrick Rose appeared on TUP was May 21, 2008, just a few weeks after this blog celebrated its first birthday. It was the day after the Bulls won the NBA Draft lottery with a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top pick.
Even at the time, everything about the poorly written and sparsely read words that would follow underneath was a bit presumptive. For starters, the Bulls hadn't even decided on Rose yet -- they were likely still catching their breath -- and the Memphis guard was far from the only viable candidate for the No. 1 pick. After all, Kansas State's Michael Beasley had just turned in arguably the most impressive freshman season in college basketball's modern era, topping the numbers that had turned Kevin Durant into the NBA's white swan just a season before. Didn't matter to TUP. There have been over 1,300 posts on this site, and I hope they'll be 1,300 more, but I have never and will never write a better headline than the one my 20-year old self jotted down that day at 3:57 a.m.
Yeah, I think I'll be proud of that one forever.
I was working on the tenth floor of the Chicago Sun-Times just hours before, probably pretending to care about high school track results. The tenth floor was effectively the Siberia of the Merch Mart: it was dark and empty and completely devoid of fellow human beings by the time my night shift started. It was where the college-kid staff of YourSeason.com was briefly exiled for pissing off some soon to be laid-off copy editor who didn't enjoy our overly enthusiastic conversations about top ten list making. It was the spot where I would receive the news from Scott over AOL Instant Messenger that the Bulls miraculously won the draft lottery.
All of this is sappy and none of it is relevant, I know. But on the day Derrick Rose will hoist his MVP trophy above his head to an adoring United Center crowd, I can't help but think all the way back.
* * * *
Really, this is how the 2010-2011 season started. That's not an adidas commercial or a Bulls' season ticket promo, at least not yet. That's real life, and it happened just weeks after the Heat threw themselves a championship celebration in July. At that point in the summer, I was still squarely in the midst of my Miami depression. I'm ashamed of myself, but I didn't even take Rose's quote seriously enough to write about it. It was never mentioned on TUP. I'm still not sure if I believe he actually said those words, even if I remember hearing it for the first time clear as day. Seriously, what a fairy tale season...
It's true, the brightest Bulls memories from this year have yet to be made, no matter how it finishes up. How much do you remember about the White Sox's 2005 regular season? Probably not much. But the images of El Duque escaping a no-outs, bases loaded jam against Boston likely remains clear as day. Same goes for Anaheim's dropped third strike against AJ, Pauli's grand slam, Podsednik's walk-off, and Geoff Blum's homer to cap a marathon Game 3. All of it.
Point is, when the final horn has sounded on the Bulls' 2010-2011 campaign, the 82-game regular season will be an afterthought. We'll be euphoric or devastated, nowhere in between, and completely blinded by it. But as Bobby touched on a month or so ago, this regular season from Derrick Rose deserves to be cherished forever, not thrown away if a ring doesn't come with it. We may live our entire lives without seeing a one-season stretch so captivating.
There are nearly too many highlights to choose from, and going back through my own archives earlier in the night proved that it's a good thing I write this stuff down, otherwise so much of it would be lost forever in my mind. I remember jumping around with 15 of my closest friends after Rose hit a buzzer-beating three to send Houston to overtime. I remember leaping onto my couch after he threw down that two-handed dunk against the Knicks. I remember my roommates running back his one-handed alley-oop finish against the Pistons on the DVR about 10 times before moving on to watch the rest of the game. I remember the 42 he dropped on the Spurs the game before the All-Star break, and those last two daggers in Chris Quinn's eye. I remember seeing him play five times in person, against the Warriors with Matt, Mavericks with Hyland, Cavs with Albe and Pat, Kings with Blabas, Doyle, Wood and Adam, and Pacers with Hyland once more.
I remember his hilarious opposition to dancing during the starting lineup introductions at the All-Star Game, the time he spun a shoe on his finger and winked at us, his All-Star weekend party poster, and the day he ate a waffle.
The Internet argued with itself for much of this season about Rose's MVP credentials. I wrote about how even the most informed Bulls fans didn't think he was totally deserving, and, who knows, maybe they were right. My take remains the same as it has ever been: who cares. Derrick Rose is a shining beacon of happiness between spending every day in a cubicle from 9-7 while the Chicago airs continues to punish us into May. I'm not in the business of *getting it right*; I'm just here to hold tight everything about these Bulls and their point guard. I think he did pretty well.
If anything, take the criticism to Rose's MVP like this: he still has so much room to get better. He's 22, two grade levels below me, the youngest Most Valuable Player in league history. And he's not yet at the height of his powers. He may not even be close.
He's survived Englewood, Vinny Del Negro, and that pesky ulcer. This was the season of Derrick Rose, and it will be forever. More than anything, I'm just privileged to ride shotgun.