Saturday, February 7, 2009

Derrick Rose is my Barack Obama

And you thought this blog would only be about sports.

Just kidding - I imagine the picture alone is clear indication that I have no intention of talking politics.. just trying to capitalize on Barack Obama as a symbol of hope.

In case it wasn't obvious from my worship of all things Michael Jordan, my two favorite basketball teams are the Chicago Bulls and North Carolina Tar Heels. I will talk about both of those teams frequently, I'm sure, but this post is only about Chicago.

Back to Obama. Unfortunately, there are many similarities between our downtrodden economy/struggling nation and the woebegone Chicago Bulls. Both recently are experiencing new leadership from a (relatively) young man who came out of virtual obscurity (Rose was not the most highly touted prospect coming out of HS, or the early front runner for the #1 overall pick, and Obama wasn't a serious Presidential candidate until at least the 2004 DNC). The nation, especially the economy, and the Bulls both will likely get worse before they get any better. Whether or not you think Obama can lead this country to prosperity largely depends on your political leanings, and I won't disclose mine here, but there is little doubt that the Chicago Bulls will be better because of Rose's presence.

As of this post, the Bulls are 22-29 following a 115-114 OT loss against the Dallas Mavericks, leaving them 2 games out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, having just gone 4-3 in their seven-game "ice show" road trip.. but you aren't here for facts.

First, a step back.

When the Bulls won the 2008 NBA draft lottery I was ecstatic because that meant they would either have the rudder to steer their sinking ship or a prodigious post scorer to take pressure off of everyody else. With the rule changes a few years ago favoring perimeter players, and seeing what guys like Chris Paul and Deron Williams did for their franchises, I hoped that John Paxson would end his streak of stupidity and take Derrick over Mr. Beasley. I loved what I saw out of Rose in the NCAA tournament, at least when I wasn't worried about a potential championship game matchup in which he would dismantle Ty Lawson. In the Elite 8 against Texas there was no doubt who won the Augustine-Rose matchup, or who had more NBA potential, and it was easy to see the unselfishness and committment to winning and getting better that every coach, GM, and fan wants on their side. Besides, the only thing Chicago knows to do with talented forwards is trade them before their prime for nothing (see: Brand, Elton; Artest, Ron; Chandler, Tyson; Miller, Brad; Aldridge, LaMarcus; it hurts too much to continue.. but at least we don't have Eddy Curry hahahahaha).

Back to the present.

Nearly everything I have seen from the Bulls this season has made me want to vomit (my only hope for Vinny Del Negro is that he doesn't go down as the worst coach in NBA history), but Rose has been nothing but encouraging. The unselfishness, committment to winning, and desire to improve is more evident than ever, given that he's played more NBA games than college games already. There is really nothing more important than that, but what has me giddy is that despite Rose's biggest shortcoming, his lack of a consistent jump shot, he is shooting 47% from the floor. He is being given space and dared to shoot it, yet he gets to the rim seemingly whenever he wants.. and with such grace! When he can consistently burn people for giving him that space by hitting jumpers, which won't take longer than one or two offseasons, he will be unguardable. He could be a bigger, stronger Chris Paul - which nearly makes me orgasm. Even if he never gets that good, he will undoubtedly be some kind of amalgamation of Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker, which isn't a bad consolation.

The Bulls are serious contenders to get bounced in the first round by Boston or Cleveland as the 7 or 8 seed this season, almost entirely because of Rose. I don't want to bet against my team, and now that Milwaukee is depleted it's easier not to, but I honestly don't see it happening. I don't believe in the Knicks, as a general rule, but Mike D'Antoni will get that bunch of bums into the playoffs before the Bulls somehow, and New Jersey has a stud (Devin Harris) and Clark Kent (Vince Carter: he could have been Superman, but never doffed his suit to show the S on his chest - with the notable exception being the Sydney Olympics in general and the below Frederic Weis dunk specifically) to pair with an emerging Brook Lopez, which adds up to more wins than what the Bulls will finish the season with.

Once Chicago can unload 75% or more of its horrendous roster and get players who don't just want to shoot 25 times to score 20 points.. and spurn over-generous contract offers for tales of sugar plums dancing in his pea-brained head (I'm looking at you, Ben Gordon)...

Sorry, what was I saying? Right, right - once the Bulls rid themselves of flea-ridden dogs (like Ben Gordon) and have basketball players, Derrick Rose will be exactly the kind of leader that I want running the team, and giving LeBron James a run in his quest to match or exceed MJ's title total.

That was quite a bit more than I intended to post, so I will quit while I'm making some semblance of sense.. maybe? More on LBJ's quest for championships later.

P.S. If it seems like my ripping of Ben Gordon is excessive, then you are not a Bulls fan. I only have such disdain for him because of the promise that he once showed, and the fact that it is his attitude and not talent that prevents him from helping the team reach its goals.

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