Thursday, March 17, 2011

 Mess with the Bulls and you get the Thorns 

Who knew the term under the radar was synonymous with "best team in the eastern conference". That's just what the Chicago Bulls are. With 16 games left in the NBA regular season, the Bulls are sitting second in the east with the same record (48-18) as the Boston Celtics and riding a seven game win streak.

Derrick Rose at 22 has set up a pretty good case to become the youngest MVP in NBA history. His on the court sophistication and off the floor maturity are both beyond his years. We forget he's only been in the league for three, a testament to how outstanding he has been playing. Few players three years in have dealt with the kind of adversity Rose has had to overcome. From going the distance in a seven game thriller with the Celtics in 2008, to a (4-1) series shellacking at the hands of Lebron and the Cavaliers in 2009, to now leading a true championship contender, Rose has grown exponentially each season.

Chicago has had some help when it comes their covert rise, benefiting from the summer's Lebron sweepstakes and months of Melo-Drama, flying under the radar to land as one of the league's premier teams .

They don't have the star power of the Heat, the Hall-of-Famers of Boston, or the flash of the Knicks. The Bulls are just thirteen guys who play as one. And, they have the best point guard in the NBA. I know its blasphemy to proclaim anyone other than Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, or Deron Williams as the league's best point guard, but I just did. So call me Benedict Arnold and I will wear the name proudly.

The Bulls are a cohesive unit, one band with one sound. (Isn't that from the movie Drumline?)

The best way to describe the Chicago Bulls is by comparing them to the NFL. They are like the Ravens on defense, ferocious and menacing, while on offense like Peyton Manning, who trusts a fifth string receiver to catch a game winning touchdown pass as much as he does Reggie Wayne. If the Bulls are a band, then Rose is the conductor syncing up his teammates to the collective beat.

Adversity reared its ugly head for the Bulls before the season even started. They acquired all-star forward Carlos Boozer only to lose him to injury until December. Boozer also missed three games in January due to a sprained ankle. The Bulls have been able to lean on past experiences and follow the approach of "the next man in line" to remain successful in his absence. It's not easy to matriculate a star player in an offense.

Exhibit A: The Miami Heat.

Not just a star, but perhaps Transcendent.

Naysayers believe Rose is nothing more than a scoring point guard who will go to a dozen All-Star games but never win a ring. However, he has two qualities that distinguish himself from an Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady. Rose has humility and work-ethic. He's not putting out rap albums or getting arrested. He's the first one in the gym and the last to leave.

Rose has two goals: To get better everyday and to lead the Bulls to an NBA championship. He has already taken strides to become a better player. This season he has increased his scoring average, rebounds, and assists, while improving his three point shooting.

Complacent, Rose is not. Content, not a chance. It's the 20th anniversary of the Bulls first championship. Derrick Rose is ready to carry the torch.

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