"Ice, ice, ice!" The isolation play alert wails across the U.C. floor. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau's incessant refrain. Undoubtedly, it echoes in the mind of every Bulls player wending it's way even into their sleep. A live streaming, interactive call to arms. Yet Thib's self-created, iron clad order seems less belonging to the PC sensitive, "age of the IPod," then it harkens back to the master commanders of yesteryear.
Lombardi, Rockne, (Chuck)Dailey.. Thibodeau.Tyrannically Tom Thibodeau storms the decks(sidelines) like a fiery sea captain pitched in battle. "Man the guns, hoist the main sale, port to starboard! " Surely I just desecrated every nautical command a land lubber(?) can. Yet one can replace the barking chortles of genuine commanders long past for those now leading their own into battle; one of elite competitors at the pinnacle of competition, "Ice, box out, screen!" The point is: Thib's runs a tight ship. If you don't believe me just ask Derrick Rose.
Derrick knows. One blown coverage is all it takes to provoke a cascade of obscenities that any Quentin Tarantino movie would be proud of. At the tender age of 22 when most kids are either just graduating, still in school, or roaming from job to job trying to find their niche in the world all still a distraction from baser pursuits: hanging with friends, likely some partying, and of course babes(place modern term for hot young peer age girls here).
Then you have Derrick Rose. "Why can't I be the MVP?" "Why, why, why, why" It sounded so crazy didn't it? Yet it reverberated across NBA circles with just a hint of wonder. Too big, too fast, to strong.. to soon? A 61 win season suggests otherwise.
Simply, the great ones, guys with steely win at all costs demeanors and off the charts athletic abilities like Derrick give no advance warning. There is no Michael Jordan alert. While there can only be one Michael there will be, ah-hem, are other greats to come. And one has arrived. He's here rolling along as surely as the tide does sending a wave of domination that has dashed the superstar landscape of the NBA like a Tsunami.
Yet there were signs. Like the 36 point quake against the world champion Boston Celtics in his first playoff game, a victory. And who stood there watching helpless to stop it? Only the greatest defensive architect of his time. Two atlases under one roof who would one day join forces in a quest for the title of NBA champion. No, I'm not speaking of Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. Rather two old school gentlemen who embody an old school city like broad shouldered Chi Town. "They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That's the Chiago way!" So said a movie character played by Sean Connery, but true as any fiction. Detroit started it, and the Chicago Bulls finished it. Now theres a new kid in town. Who leaves 2000 points, 600 assists, and 300 rebounds in the company of Jordan and James only as his calling card. Along with a 61 win season.
When Studs Collide
Yes there were rumblings of the greatness to come like the temblor unheard beneath the din of doubters was last year's playoffs where Rose in only his second season averaged 27(26.9 anal retentive among you)ppg?! A clue to Rose' unbounding potential lost in the moment of LeBron's Last Stand Cavs. And upon that very summer came the equally steely mentor Derrick needed to elevate his game where he knew it belonged. A locomotive of irrevocable energy built in places with names like Musselman, Riley, Van Gundy. Hard charging into Chicago after the tottering out of town horse and buggy driving bench warmer named Vinny something..?
You wouldn't know it to look at him. A slightly portly 52 year old with thinning hair, and a ready amicable smile for anyone he meets. A guy who would make a nice accountant. Off the court that is. And out of his world. NBA basketball
For anyone who thought this guy was a "first time head coach" think again. What you had with Tom T. was instant cred(ibility). What did Doc(Rivers) say, "When it comes ot the defense, I just leave Tom alone." Sure for the first time he'd have to tell guys to have a seat when they blew assignments. And then face their mega million dollar queries of momentary outrage with, "Yeah, what of it." But Thibs had the knowledge and toughness to back it up. As K.C. Johnson said[He knows all the answers before you even think to ask the questions].
"In a very calm sea, beneath a sky moonless but sown with millions of stars... By the Captains Order's given in the next few minutes.." Logan Marshall
Metaphorically you could view the light's out U.C. player introductions as such with poetic license. Alright, I just thought it sounded cool. But true enough in that solemn time before "the Game" Derrick Rose might reflect upon this. On the night he faced the biggest foe in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Cop Outs, a young man who had placed so much of a burden on himself with his own demands for excellence of both he and his teammates, stood unsure. As do all great leaders poised on the precipice of a great challenge. Like the allegorical Fortress of Solitude some have to recall the words and memories of their past. Father's or some fith grade coach who invested, believed in you. And some are lucky enough to have someone like this there for the moment at hand. A Jackson, a Pop, or even a Riley(tinged with just a bit of evil, but a titan of a mentor nonetheless). So Derrick Rose was called into Tom Thibodeau's office. And got a good talking to. The one he needed. Not a put down, but a lift up. A heartfelt encouragement and instruction to lay waste to the enemy that would take what is yours, victory, replaced by a less then sympathetic hug and a handshake as they walk away with your dreams. So Thibs raised the roof, as did Derrick Rose with him. Mentor and son, er player.
Moment At Hand
So two fiery souls will face a gauntlett of doubters and opposition on their path of winning. A path toward glory? Surely soldiers will be needed to join the battle. Hearts of valor hidden only by Bulls unis they wear. Until game time. Crunch time. Names like Noah, Gibson, Watson, Boozer, Thomas, Asik, Korver, Brewer, Bogans, Deng and on and on. Perhaps the path will only partly be completed this season. Or maybe to the mountain top. But a path nonetheless that Bulls fans will know it if they see it.
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