The Jordan Rules were a defensive strategy employed by the Detroit Pistons against Michael Jordan in order to limit his effectiveness on offense. Devised by head coach Chuck Daly in 1988, the Pistons' strategy was to play him tough, to physically challenge him and to vary its defenses so as to try to throw him off balance. Sometimes the Pistons would overplay Jordan to keep the ball from him. Sometimes they would play him straight up, more often they would run a double-team at him as soon as he touched the ball to try to force him to give it up. And whenever he went to the basket, they made sure his path was contested.
The "Rules" will be used in 2011, and this time the target will be Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls...again.
What most people fail to realize is that Tex Winter devised the triangle offense to counteract the skull-duggery of the Pistons attack. All hail Phil Jackson for believing in Tex's philosophy, and all hail Michael Jordan for embracing it (not having any choice) in order to beat the Pistons. Watch how Laimbeer sneaks that elbow on Pippen and the ref drags him off the court. (If you want goosebumps, watch the whole video)
For our generation, we've seen the rules executed against other singular superstars, and every single time the rules ended up working.
Here are three examples...
Allen Iverson (2001) - No team has been built around one person more than Allen Iverson's Philadelphia 76ers. The mastermind that is Larry Brown realized that he could only surround Iverson with players that were selfless, played hard defense, and had one singular skill. To be honest, the work that Iverson and Brown did with that haphazard set of individuals should be lauded and praised.
However, the Lakers weren't having any part of that. They sent Iverson to the floor, repeatedly. Bludgeoned him, and made him come off that ball. Iverson didn't have that kind of help. What in the hell was George Lynch, Matt Geiger, Mt. Mutombo, Eric Snow, a jar of flaxseed oil, a calculator, and these paper clips going to do against the Shaqobe Lakers? Nothing. Iverson's success with the lackluster Sixers quickly tailspinned and that was the end of that.
Tracy McGrady (2003) - When T-Mac touched down in Orlando, he quickly ascended up the ranks as arguably the best player in the NBA. (Good luck convincing these young cats that McGrady was maybe the best player in the league at one point in time.) Anyway, you all remember when T-Mac had effectively taken over the league, averaged 32.1 points/game to lead the league and could do no wrong? So when the #8-seed Magic were ready to upset the #1 seed Pistons, and we're up 3-1...this dude McGrady prior to game 5 was quoted as saying that how wonderful it was to "finally be in the position to advance to the second round."
Orlando then lost games 5, 6, and 7 by an average of more than 20 points, the Pistons became the Pistons again, put the screws to McGrady, put him on the floor, and basically said "make someone else beat us" and of course...they couldn't.
LeBron James (2007-10) - The "Rules" are the reason why LeBron left Cleveland. He couldn't take it anymore, it was a futile effort that got tougher and tougher every single year. Teams figured out how to play those Cavaliers...clog the lane, get the ball out of LeBron's hands, and make someone else beat us. San Antonio swept them using the philosophy, Orlando executed the "rules" to perfection, and Boston just bullied the Cavs them to make it happen.
Philadelphia, Orlando, and Cleveland didn't run an offense sophisticated enough to deal with the "Rules" as they were applied. Plus, they didn't have enough star-power to help out their singular superstars to overcome the guerilla warfare that was going on between the lines. Which brings the MVP of the season right into our crosshairs...
Derrick Martell Rose.
Look, some of you all killed me last month when I said that the 2011 Chicago Bulls are a direct descendant of the 2007-10 Cleveland Cavaliers. I get it, you don't want to be associated with those losers. Fine, I gotcha. However let's be real about this for a second...do we believe that Tom Thibodeau is enough of an offensive connoisseur to prevent the "Rules" from stopping his team? Doe we think Derrick Rose is good enough to overcome the skull duggery? Do we think that the Bulls have enough offensive firepower to deal with the potential bullying that will come with Derrick Rose's direction?
I'd say no to all three of those questions, but the only big difference that swings this into Chicago's favor is that I don't know if Miami can execute that gameplan. Their halfcourt defense is much improved from the beginning of the season, and they have bodies they can throw down low...but really, its all about a mindset. If Miami cannot do it, then its safe to say that Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Memphis all can. They have the bodies, the goons, and the wherewithal to present the Bulls major challenges.
Of course, Rose does play for the franchise that raised The Jordan, so maybe he knows something we don't. We shall see tomorrow night.
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