CHICAGO — It’s a bitter sweet moment for Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls but don’t mistake that for a bad thing.
After his best season to date and leading the Bulls to their best record since 1998, Chicago native Derrick Rose has been named the league’s MVP. He will get the official announcement tomorrow and will be presented the awarding front of the United Center crowd during Game 2 on Wednesday.
This comes after the Bulls suffered an opening game loss to the Hawks on Monday in which Rose actually re-injured himself in the closing minutes. But Rose didn’t get to that point by being an average player, he posted an incredible year that caused a resurgence in both Bulls pride and quality Bulls basketball.
Rose average 24 points per game, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his breakout third season as a pro. Rose’s journey to the MVP began when he was drafted number one overall by the Bulls out of Memphis in 2008. He spent his rookie year winning over fans and earning the Rookie of the Year award but failing to achieve much team success under Vinny Del Negro, despite making the playoffs in his first two seasons.
It wasn’t until the arrival of Tom Thibodeau and Rose’s relentless offseason training regiment that things began to become more than just great for the young star.
He spent the summer as a member of a young USA Nationals team which saw much improvement come to his game. When the season began Rose exploded out of the gate topping totals and records from his previous year and setting new franchise and career records.
Rose is the first Bull since Michael Jordan to win the coveted MVP trophy; it was Jordan who endorsed Rose as the MVP after a game in Charlotte late in the regular season.
But perhaps the most compelling aspect of Rose’s MVP win is that he would have no problem giving it back. Rose has carved out an attitude of himself that is a team first, individual second mentality. It is this attitude that infected the Bulls this season with a winning spirit.
Since last September when Rose stated, “The way I look at it, within myself, why can’t I be the MVP of the league?” he said. “Why can’t I be the best player in the league? Why? Why can’t I do that?”, he has been as humble as an aged veteran. Rose has publicly denounced praise upon him and rejected claims he is the league’s best player. He instead uses these moments for self criticism or to shine the spotlight on his teammates Omer Asik or C.J. Watson who would otherwise be overlooked.
At 22, Rose is the youngest ever recipient of the MVP award and with his coach Tom Thibodeau winning the Coach of the Year Award this weekend, it marks the 12th time a coach and player duo have won each respective award. It’s also the first time Chicago has done it nice the legendary “Quest for 70″ season in the ’90’s when Phil Jackson won his only COY award along side one of Michael Jordan’s five MVP’s.
Rose couldn’t get the Bulls quiet to 70 but he got them to 62 which was about twenty-five more games than anyone was expecting out of Chicago. Although his candidacy for the MVP was heavily criticized by some, his teammates (much like Rose did for them) never doubted his talents for a second.
“If this game doesn’t put the stamp on the MVP vote, I don’t know what else you can say.” said a jovial Joakim Noah after a 97-81 win over the Celtics in early April. Rose dropped 30 on Boston that game.
It was moments like that all season long that make Rose deserving of the trophy. He has re-instituted a swagger for the Bulls not seen since Jordan and it’s not only infecting his teammates, it’s overcoming the entire city. With winners like the Bears and Blackhawks in town, the Bulls are leading the charge in a resurgence of Chicago pride that brings back the nostalgia of the 1990’s. One almost wants to see Gene Siskel in the locker room interviewing players after the games.
But that right there is the power of Rose. He’s a storybook come to life; an inner city Chicago kid grows up watching the Bulls dynasty only to one day be their savior and set in motion a movement to restore that glory.
Rose is the Second Coming in the Second City. He is a reincarnation of something special and he belongs to the people of Chicago. This MVP isn’t just for Rose, or the Bulls; it’s for the fans who fill the United Center and the ones who can’t afford that and still sit at home watching one of Chicago’s own do something amazing. This is for the people of Chicago.
And Derrick Rose wouldn’t have it any other way.