Derrick Rose is getting ready for the playoffs.
In his first three season's for the Chicago Bulls, he's made the playoffs all three times.
The Bulls failed to make it past the first round in his first two seasons, until last year when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Each battle different, more historic and dire than the next.
In Derrick's rookie season, there was Boston. An epic seven game series that had the Bulls No.1 overall pick foreshadowing an unmitigated paroxysm for winning and showing up in big games. As the young Rose and then Vinny Del Negro lead Bulls scraped and clawed the Boston Celtics, they fell short in a learning experience that would prove crucial down the line for the young point guard.
Then came LeBron Part I.
The Cleveland Cavaliers came into the playoffs as the No.1 seed and the Bulls managed to leak in for the second consecutive season. It was another learning lesson and the Bulls lost in 5 games, Rose averaged 26ppg, 7.2 assists, and left with a taste in his mouth that he would carry into the off-season and the upcoming training camp.
The NBA changed greatly over the summer of 2010, LeBron James left Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach. The superstars in the NBA were all shifting to big markets with money to spend. And everyone was looking for ways to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
The came "The Question"
Derrick Rose made a bold statement to begin the 2010-11 season, posing the question, "Why can't I be the MVP in this league?" The question, although at the time seemed a bit far of a reach with the given climate of the NBA, and with the Bulls having a newly appointed head coach in Tom Thibidueau, was quickly put to rest as Rose stepped up and became what he set out to be. MVP.
LeBron Pt. 2
The Bulls pulled into the Eastern Conference Finals at 8-3, staring the evil empire of the Miami Heat right down the barrel. The Bulls - barring the best record in the NBA, thus home court advantage, rolled the Heat in Game 1 only to never win another game. Derrick Rose was exposed for doing a bit too much in his MVP campaign and for having no significant help offensively.
Another lesson learned.
Another notch on the belt.
The Bulls came into this shortened season with heightened expectations. Although Miami is still favored to win it all, despite losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals - the Bulls still came in with a bulls-eye (pun-intended) on their backs. This time around, there was no "question", there was no introduction, just off to the races. And so far Chicago appears primed to take the No.1 spot again heading into an immediate playoff race.
Despite the NBA's best record, Derrick and the Bulls have been plagued all season long with injuries to seemingly all it's stars. Most importantly of those stars Rose who has missed over 20 games out of a shortened 66 game season's worth due to a multitude of nicks and bumps.
20 year old Derrick may not have said anything, but 3 playoff series and an MVP later - this 23 year old Derrick spoke up and said what may be the smartest series of comments in his brief career.
The guard took to the media earlier in the season when stressing frustration in the lack of amount of trips to the free throw line he receives in comparison to other "stars" in the league. One could make a claim for egotism in the argument, but we all know Derrick, right? Outcome being, Derrick increased his trip number to the line in critical situation, but ultimately drew criticism for an inability to make free throws in the clutch.
Something that will follow him into the playoffs.
But the most recent comment may be the most significant of all. Positioning himself for the rough, hard-nosed style of playoff play - Derrick made a bold statement about a flagrant foul from Charlie Villanueva, who ended up cutting Rose's nose. Rose told the media that he was "sick" and "tired" of all the hard fouls, but "As I See It" it meant so much more going forward for the way he is officiated driving into the lane.
See Rose's comments below,
"I’m sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me," Rose said. "I was mad, man. I’m a man, so situations like that, you have to say something. He hit me in the face and didn’t even aim for the ball."
NBA on notice. As long as the Bulls can stay away from too many of these,
then the Bulls should be looking at a comfortable run into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then it's LeBron Pt. 3