I know that my 3.4 regular readers love my rants, and boy oh boy, there’s a lot to rant about between the mauling of the Bears at the hands of Gus Frerotte on Sunday evening, the Illini football team failing to become bowl eligible even though they had enough NFL prospects to have been reasonably expected to make a New Year’s Day bowl this season, and the Illinois basketball team forgetting in the Clemson ACC/Big Ten Challenge game that the purpose of a last second shot when you’re down by 2 is to actually shoot the ball before time expires. However, I’ll focus on the handful of good things on the Chicago sports front (other than the fact that the Bears could still very well back that ass up to an NFC North title with an 8-8 record): Derrick Rose, Derrick Rose, and more Derrick Rose.
Many of you are well aware by my litany of posts during the summer that I was quite excited from the moment that the Bulls won the draft lottery that Derrick Rose would be coming home, but thought of him as more of an “upside” guy since the only position more difficult for a rookie in professional sports than NBA point guard is starting NFL quarterback. Well, after a month of watching Rose in action, I’m simply flabbergasted at the magnitude of his play. Believe me, I’m not one for hyperbole in terms in of athletic praise, but DERRICK ROSE IS THE FUCKING TRUTH. Not only is he blowing past top tier defenders off of the dribble and consistently scoring 20 points a game, he’s got jackasses like Larry Hughes and Aaron Gray on the court with him that can’t hit open shots, thus holding down Rose’s assist numbers. I can’t emphasize enough that the fact that he’s doing this as a 19-year old true point guard is beyond comprehension to me. I’m not going to go off on some prematurely wacky MJ or LeBron comparisons, but let’s just say the Derrick Rose is wildly exceeding some already pretty high expectations.
Speaking of LeBron James, this brings up the well-known NBA free agent class of 2010 that includes the King, Chicagoan Dwyane Wade (it has been fascinating to see Wade’s alma mater and one of my high school’s conference rivals, Richards, featured prominently in his new Converse commercial), and Chris Bosh. As expected, the New York-centric media is all in a tizzy over the fact that the Knicks have cleared cap space through a series of trades over the past couple of weeks, which puts the franchise in a position to bring LeBron to his rightful place at Madison Square Garden (since it would such a “waste” to have a superstar of this stature in place like Cleveland). Sam Smith actually poses a legitimate question in all of this: Why not the Bulls in 2010? The Bulls can put themselves in position to have enough salary cap space to offer a max contract to one or even two of those marquee free agents. Let’s not forget that with all of the talk about LeBron’s affinity for the Yankees, he has also stated repeatedly that his favorite NBA team growing up was the Bulls (granted, he was the ultimate front-runner by also being a Cowboys fan, ensuring that he covered every possible 1990s dynasty). I’m not saying that LeBron will be the new attraction at the United Center in two years, but the fact that Derrick Rose is already here means that this team will not be an empty cupboard like many of the other teams that will be clearing cap space at the same time. Unlike a barren Knicks team, pairing Rose up with any one of LeBron, Wade, or Bosh would almost certainly make the Bulls the dominant team in the Eastern Conference, if not all of the NBA, for the better part of a decade. Add in the fact that it is a standard shoe contract clause for players to receive additional financial incentives to play in the Chicago media market (along with New York and Los Angeles) and the Bulls ought to be the most enticing 2010 free agent destination out there assuming that the franchise can clear the necessary cap space.
I’ll admit that before the ping-pong balls bounced the right way back in May, the summer of 2010 was all that I was really looking forward to as a Bulls fans that actually wants to see some new championship banners since I knew for a very long time that the Deng/Hinrich/Gordon nucleus would have a maximum ceiling of advancing a couple of rounds in the playoffs but never have a legitimate chance to win it all. However, Derrick Rose has changed all of that. While I’m still dreaming of the sky-high possibilities of 2010, the presence of Rose has made every Bulls game appointment television for me right now (even though this team would be fortunate to get the 8th-seed in the playoffs). With the way he has adjusted to the NBA as 19-year old starting point guard with subpar teammates after only a month, he’d still be the headliner at the United Center no matter who the Bulls may or may not sign in 2010.
(Image from Bleacher Report)