By Dave Wischnowsky–-
CHICAGO (CBS) – After a pair of shaky games to start this year’s NBA Playoffs, I’m a little bit uncertain about the Chicago Bulls right now.
But this I am not: Derrick Rose is the most athletic point guard to ever play professional basketball.
And I think whoever is No. 2 might be sucking wind just trying to keep up with Chicago’s Finest.
This past Saturday afternoon during the first quarter of Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers, Rose, the Bulls’ ever-so-precocious point, pulled off a truly ridiculous sequence of plays in an MVP-caliber season filled with them.
First, Rose recovered on a defensive lapse to swat Darren Collison’s shot off the backboard from behind. He then took the ball downcourt himself in what’s become a customary blink, pulled off a jaw-dropper of a spin move around Tyler Hansbrough in the paint and then kissed a shot off the glass for an almost impossible layup to tie the ballgame up at 15-all.
You could have called the series of plays vintage Derrick Rose if, you know, Rose had been in the league long enough to have a vintage yet.
In any case, Dan Shulman just called it incredible.
“How many point guards in the history of the NBA can have a sequence like Derrick Rose just did on both ends of the court?” the ABC play-by-play announcer asked, I’d say, quite rhetorically.
On Monday, the sports website bleacherreport.com posted a blog entry entitled, “Derrick Rose and the 25 Most Athletic Point Guards Ever.” In its intro the blog read: “One may call Rose the most athletic point guard of all time right now, even though he is only 22 years old.”
And I, for one, most certainly would.
As other candidates for the “Most Athletic” label, Bleacher Report listed (in no particular order): Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, Calvin Murphy, Spud Webb, Muggsy Bogues, Kevin Johnson, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, Walt Frazier, Isiah Thomas, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Steve Francis, Nate Robinson, Charlie Ward, Baron Davis and Stephon Marbury.
On Saturday, ABC color commentator Jon Barry responded to Shulman’s question about what other point guards in NBA history could pull off such an athletic sequence as Rose did during Game 1 against the Pacers. Barry, search for a reasonable answer, tossed out the names of Oklahoma City’s second-year pro Russell Westbrook (very athletic) and all-time great Isiah Thomas (very quick).
However, Barry added that he didn’t know if there’s ever been another point guard with Rose’s power.
Or, I would argue, with his overall speed.
Rose is essentially a small forward – a freakishly athletic one – pinned inside a point guard’s body. His game doesn’t exist just on the court, like most lead guards, but also above the rim. And, while there have been other high-flyers to play the position – Baron Davis, Steve Francis and Westbrook to name a few – I don’t think that any of them have displayed the pure explosion and overall quickness (both offensively and defensively) as Rose has.
Now, I never saw Oscar Robertson play point guard, of course (heck, the guy retired in 1974). And, perhaps, he was in Rose’s league as an athlete – anyone who averages a triple-double for a season has to have some crazy athleticism, I don’t care what era.
But, I’m still going to guess that even “The Big O” might have dropped an “ooh” or an “ahh” when Derrick Rose flashed past him on the basketball court.
And give him a nod that the athleticism Rose brings to his position is without peer.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.