By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Dear David Stern, Billy Hunter, various grim-faced lawyers, union representatives, hired-gun economists, and rank-and-file ballers: don’t take this season from Derrick Rose.
Wait…let me rephrase that.
Don’t take this season of Derrick Rose from me.
He just turned 23, is coming off an improbably-early MVP award, was the driving force behind a 62-win Bulls team, and is one of the most dynamic, thrilling basketball players Chicago has ever enjoyed.
Actually, now that I think about it, he is inarguably second on that list.
(Don’t even bother with a Scottie Pippen argument — you’re wrong. As are you, Bob Love-ers, Chet Walker supporters, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Dave Corzine.)
The season is in jeopardy, now, with players and owners still unable to arrive at a mutual point of satisfaction and disappointment regarding the distribution of profits, salary-cap rules and equitable ways to help the handful of moribund franchises.
Figure it all out, soon, so I can get my year of Rose being spectacular. Per your own slogan, make some amazing happen.
Because this isn’t just a year of a guy – it’s this year of this guy.
I know, I worry more than most about injury and physical deterioration, probably more than I should. But even Rose himself had admitted that, already, he doesn’t jump quite as high as he once did. Several times per season he comes cartwheeling to the floor after an aerial foray to the rim is met by a hard bump from a big man, and those add up.
Note the trajectory. Year one, he was Rookie of the Year. Year two, he made the All-Star team. Last year he vaulted past LeBron James and Dirk Nowitski to take the top individual honor. He’s getting better, faster, and is ready for the prime of his prime, which may not last long. To have a seemingly-solvable labor dispute deprive us of a year of it would be criminal.
Rose will become a better player, even as his preternatural athleticism erodes slowly over time. He will be a smarter true point guard, improve his defensive footwork, develop a go-to post move or two and better understand how to budget his energy. I understand that the decline of the wow-factor is counterbalanced by overall improvement.
But c’mon. I can’t deny my desire to see another full year of the best of his best – one-handed alley-oop throwdowns, feathered finishes through a forest of swinging arms, that anticipatory United Center hush when the odd-man break picks up speed, and Stacey King exploding in another verbal Rosegasm, where he screams disconnected trash-talk at nobody in particular.
It’s not often I enjoy a piece of sports-candy as much as I enjoy this one, and I’ll be acutely aware of not having it, since Rose is at the peak of his powers.
Kobe Bryant looks like 85% of himself, if that. Dwyane Wade has some bad-legs nights amid the spectacular ones. Joe Johnson makes way too much money for a guy who can’t move like he used to.
And let’s be real: the Michael Jordan who won titles after a year away was more jump-shooter than basket-attacker, as pull-ups, fadeaways and post-ups replaced the earlier aerobatics. The best of his highlight dunks came from the first half of his career, and the later playoff runs were more rugged, workmanlike efforts, regardless of what tricks memories play.
I appreciate this stuff when it’s happening, because it’s fleeting.
Rose is 6-3. He’s an above-the-rim point guard, a package of physical skills at the position unlike any we have seen.
I’m ready to see it. Please.
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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