By Joshua Chapman
Derrick Rose is easily my favorite point guard in the NBA.
I have no problem admitting that. I have no problem admitting my bias either. I don’t get to watch Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul or Stephen Curry with as much frequency as I do Rose. Rose’s rise to superstardom also came at a time when I really started getting into basketball. The 2008 draft was really the first draft I followed closely. Of course I followed when they drafted Joakim Noah and the 2007 draft debate between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant (Durant would’ve created a dynasty in Portland but that’s a different story).
Rose’s MVP season was magical. It was like watching a boy learning how to fly. Rose dominated every other elite point guard. CP3? 29 points, 16 assists and 8 rebounds. Stephen Curry? 23 points and 13 assists. Russell Westbrook? 26 points and 7 assists. Tony Parker? 42 points and 8 assists.
Then, just like Icarus, Rose crashed and burned, tearing his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of the first round in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Rose’s injury destroyed any hopes of a championship on what many pundits considered a true contender.
He came back last year, as everybody knows, but suffered a freak injury and tore his right meniscus.
It’s been a long two, Rose-less years. While I enjoyed watching the Bulls scrap and claw out each victory – especially when they ended Miami’s 27 game winning streak – but knowing they’d be hopelessly, hilariously outgunned in the playoffs took all the life out of rooting for them.
Now – again – Rose is back and there is hope. The front office put pieces around him to make his life easier, namely Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott.
But the Bulls start and end with Derrick “Pooh” Rose.
We’ve seen this story before. Rose looked like he was back last preseason and then he took a step back as the NBA defense kicked up a notch. This year, Rose participated in the FIBA World Cup to further help shake off rust. We saw flashes of the old Rose, but he didn’t look completely himself. Then again, he didn’t have to. He could facilitate all he wanted. In this Bulls preseason, there were more flashes of the MVP Rose we all came to love. This Rose has the same explosiveness and recklessness, but with an actual jump shot built in, as well as a knowing of when to be reckless and when to take what the defense gives you.
Can we dare to dream again?
Can we dare put that much faith into those fragile knees? Is it okay to daydream about title number 7 making its way to the United Center? Can Rose stay healthy and be the player we all know and love? Or is this a classic case of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?”
I guess we’ll just have to find out.