|« Hawks Win is Good for Coach's Health||Rose Defers to LeBron, Wade on All-Star Night »|
Bulls Fri Feb 18 2011
Apparently Derrick Rose reads GQ.
On the day that Free Darko's Bethlehem Shoals published a humble confession explaining why he's one of the few basketball writers in the country not enamored of Derrick Rose, the Bulls' point guard put up a career-high 42 points against the visiting San Antonio Spurs. Defeating the NBA's best team 109-99, even in the dog days right before the all-star break, Chicago has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the league, declaring that they're afraid of no one -- while the rest of the league knows they'll only get stronger with Joakim Noah set to return next week. Rose, meanwhile, heads off to L.A. this weekend as the Eastern Conference's starting point guard.
But let's get back to that essay.
In his piece, Shoals is brave enough to come out and say, essentially, that he can't stomach the taste of the Kool-Aid. He gets why other people like Rose, but doesn't experience the same joy while watching him play:
He flips in off-balance lay-ups like a man straightening his collar; he dunks with the force of his entire body, like a much bigger player. Rose fills most people with awe, if not joy that once upon a time, James Naismith invented the sport of basketball so that one day he might play it. Me, I watch him and I'm consumed with little more than frustration and dread.
He goes on to explain that it's the way Rose seems to play with only one style, to go head first at full speed. The reason he doesn't like him is because Rose doesn't fit the model that Shoals imagines a point guard should. He's not a player-coach like Steve Nash or Chris Paul, drawing up plays to carve up passing lanes. Shoals sees "resignation" in Rose's passes, as if he feels dishing it out is the back-up plan. Rose is a very good player, Shoals admits, but man, he could be so much better if he just played a bit more like these other, also very good players.
I have problems with this piece for a few reasons. Putting aside any arguments as to why you need to have reasons to not love a player (Shoals clearly respects Rose's abilities, and personally, I've always felt that's a fine substitute for outright adoration), it's quite old-fashioned to criticize someone because they don't fit the mold you expect them to. Yes, Rose is not the next John Stockton or Jason Kidd. Even 10-plus years from now, as Rose exits the stage, I feel it'd be wrong to compare him to either of those players if his game doesn't evolve into their molds. It's not that he's better or worse, he's just different.
MVP posts aside, I think everyone writing glowing words about Derrick Rose this year realizes in their heart of hearts that he's young and still has much to learn. He's very good at what he does, even as what he does isn't what most people expect a point guard to do. But for Shoals to dislike him already because of "what he could do and probably won't" misses the point. Setting aside the fact that you can't penalize a guy because he hasn't played his entire career yet, a player like Rose should be recognized as something unique. When he scores 42 points but only gives out eight assists, is he really playing the point guard position wrong?
Maybe the better question is, do you care?