Just a kid from Chicago. It has become his motto, something he wears on his sleeve. Last night, Chicago’s son sent his town into complete euphoria, an ultimate high that hasn’t been felt since 23 walked through the United Center doors. At the end of the day it is just another win that makes the Bulls closer to their goal, but the shot means so much more.
To simply put it, watching Derrick Rose play basketball is an emotional rollercoaster that you both love and hate at the same time. The last (and only time) I shed a few tears was when this happened. Last night I was crying for a completely different reason.
It was a shot of redemption.
His priceless reaction (or lack there of):
The shot, and his performance ( 30 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) finally silences the incredibly drawn out subject of “Derrick Rose plays better on two or more days of rest.” Here’s another hot take, EVERYONE IN THE NBA PLAYS BETTER WHEN MORE RESTED.
He stared down LeBron James and in an ESPN Instant Classic of a duel, Rose came out on top. Down the stretch, it was Rose on one end and James on the other, sprinkled in with a few Jimmy Butler and J.R. Smith clutch buckets as well.
It was a shot of hope.
The Bulls find themselves in a rare and unique position. They lead the series 2-1, if they had lost last night it would have surely been Cavs in 5. Now, the Cavs are unraveling. Shumpert’s groin injury is a problem, his lack of mobility was taken advantage of by Rose last night. Kyrie Irving admitted he has been playing on a bad foot since Game 2 of the Boston series and now, the somewhat inexperienced Cavs have to come back out for Game 4 less than 48-hours after a gut wrenching loss that really only LeBron has suffered and regrouped from.
That’s normally the Bulls situation. For the past 4 years it has been, at least. Their hope and momentum has never been stronger against a LeBron led team. Even with Pau’s bad hamstring now, the combination of Gibson and Mirotic might be a better matchup for this series, as both played well and sparked the Bulls last night.
A looming question over this series a week ago was is if the new Most Improved Player of the Year, Jimmy Butler, could slow down LeBron as much as possible defensively, and still be able to produce on the offensive end. Last night he had 20 points and held LBJ to 8-25 shooting, 1-7 from behind the 3-point line and 7 turnovers.
But don’t be fooled, the LeBron Hurricane is coming, it always does. He came back in Game 6 of the Boston series in 2012, he came back in the 2013 Finals against the Spurs. I expect something similar Sunday afternoon. But there will be someone standing in his way.
The kid from Chicago.
The shot is remarkably symbolic, especially if the Bulls keep winning. The majority of Bulls fans root for Rose on more of a personal level, more so than most stars around the league. Because of his past string of tough injuries that were simply unlucky, Chicago fans just want to see the kid succeed. Whenever he goes “vintage Rose” where he drives to rim with a combination of power and grace and finishes smoothly, I always tell myself that I enjoy nothing more than watching Derrick Rose on the hardwood.
We don’t know what the next 10 years, 10 games or 10 minutes will bring in Derrick Rose’s career, his past has warned us that all can change in an instant. So drink it in, enjoy every second of him out there dueling it out with LeBron. Players with the talent of Rose or James don’t come around very often, series like this don’t either and neither does last night.
So, let’s all marvel at the rose growing from the concrete.