Last night took me over the edge.
After watching Derrick Rose lead his team to a stunning 109-99 victory over the best team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs, I couldn't do anything but stand up and give the man a standing ovation. Yes, I actually stood up in my living room and gave the man a standing ovation.
That's what happens when you put up a ridiculous line like 42 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and a block for good measure.
Now there are some of you who have tried to put Derrick Martell Rose on the highest of levels, saying that he is the best point guard in the country. Others have said he's top 3 or top 5. However, for me not to be caught as a "prisoner of the moment", I need to truly assess what D-Rose has going on. Its bigger than the position he plays, the team he plays for, and what he's done over the last year from being on the cusp of greatness to truly being a superstar in the NBA.
Kenny and I had the same reaction when it happened...
Those missed free throws in the national championship game versus Kansas...those real like daggers going through someone's heart man. I love that Memphis team, Coach Calipari had those boys coached up, I think CDR-uh was one of the first player's ETSF really got behind as being a fan of his game, and we were all enamored with the future greatness of Derrick Rose. Yeah Mario Chalmers hit that three, Kuck Fansas, but that Memphis team was better than them and everyone knew it.
To me, I always wondered if Derrick Rose was just going to be a phenomenal athlete who happened to play point guard. I mean, I went to school with cats from Chicago, and I always remember then telling me about this kid Derrick Rose from Simeon. I mean, when you got college kids in Oklahoma going home to Chicago for the weekend to watch a high school kid play, you know he's legit. Plus, they always were quick to show me D-Rose's high school mixtape. (One of the best highlight tapes I've ever seen. In my opinion, only Reggie Bush's and Noel Devine's high school tapes were as real.)
So seeing him kill in his one year in Memphis wasn't even that surprising. Seeing him go #1 and play for his hometown Chicago Bulls seemed like a daunting and risky task, but he's owned that decision the Bulls' front office made back in 2008. (Hell, I remember being a strong advocate for Beasley going #1. Whoops.) In his first two years in the league, he still looked like the Derrick Rose we've all grown to love...making highlight reel plays via the fast break, the pass, or on defense. However, it just seemed like something was missing, something that no mixtape, no freshman could do in college, and no one really knows how to do until you HAVE to do it...
Could Derrick Rose be a leader...
I think the best thing that ever happened to Derrick Rose were a couple of things:
#1. Going up against LeBron and last year's 66-win Cavaliers squad in the playoffs, and watching Derrick have to take his game to another level. Dude averaged 26.8 points and 7.2 assists and was out there pretty much by himself from an offensive threat standpoint.
#2. Being selected to play on the 2010 FIBA World Championships team was great for him. Kenny and I saw him repeatedly getting into wars with the young guns Rondo, Westbrook, Gordon, Curry, and an old man like Billups and it resulted in Rose getting battle-tested. Coach K flat out said that Derrick Rose would have to be a leader on this team along with Kevin Durant. With the game on the line, D-Rose rose to the occasion.
#3. When the Bulls acquiring Carlos Boozer in the offseason, re-upping their deal with Joakim Noah, and not being able to get LeBron James to make "that decision" this summer, I truly believed that Rose has been playing with a chip on his shoulder and now realizes that he has the pieces to play championship basketball from here on out. Boozer has been killing when healthy, and Noah's been killing when healthy, and neither one of them have actually had any time to play together. The Bulls are 2 games behind the Heat and Celtics for best record in the East, and they haven't sniffed being 100% yet all season.
At the end of the day, the maturation of Derrick Rose has been a beautiful sight to see. As with most players who start to ascend the popularity rankings with the fanbase, I was hesitant to buy in to the crowning of D-Rose. Bryan Crawford has been preaching to the high heavens that Rose was going to be THAT guy. I just chalked it up to him being to close, to being a Chicagoan, and being a homer. I needed to see it with my own eyes, and come to the realization myself.
It happened last night. I got the goosebumps when they started chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P!" and it doesn't even seem fraudulent to say anymore.
The playoffs can't get here soon enough...
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!