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Bulls Fri Feb 18 2011

Derrick Rose: I Got Your Answer Right Here, Bethlehem Shoals

rose spurs.jpg

Derrick Rose draws a foul on DeJuan Blair. Tribune photo: Scott Strazzante.

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?

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Henry / February 18, 2011 1:20 AM

It's obvious that you can't accept the style of play Rose brings to the Point Guard. Of course we care if Rose scores a lot, but this is how things revolutionize. Rose is setting new standards for Point Guards to facilitate a game as well as scoring. I just get frustrated when people make excuses that Rose isn't playing the right way. That's just a far right point of view on conserving like Republicans do when they don't like change. I guess Rose fits Obama's desire for CHANGE.

Bruce Mitchell / February 18, 2011 8:18 AM

It seems odd to dislike Rose. I kinda understand. There are some people who refuse to jump on a bandwagon, even if it's deserving. But to not like him because he's not John Stockton is silly. 1 thing that Rose has a shot at that Stockton never will is an NBA Championship and if Rose wins any, that's all the differentiation he needs.

Jim Reedy / February 18, 2011 9:07 AM

I don't get the sense that Bethlehem Shoals is really disparaging Derrick Rose. He just doesn't especially like Rose's explosive, straight-ahead style of basketball. Preferring Jordan or Bird or Shaq doesn't mean you don't respect the others, just that you like (or don't care for) a particular style of basketball player.

Bulls fans shouldn't get upset about the essay; it essentially boils down to "Rose is great, but I like other players more."

KJ / February 18, 2011 11:18 AM

I think the point of the essay was that Rose is neither the most fun to watch, nor would be the most fun to play with. When people describe his play, the adjectives don't flow the way they do when names like Nash, Rondo, and Paul are discussed. Yes, Rose is VERY GOOD. Yes, his team's winning percentage has improved every year along with his abilities. But for someone who sees basketball for more than just the final score, Rose is not the player you would create in your own Frankenstein-ian lab.

Matty O / February 22, 2011 12:53 PM

Something to consider when analyzing Rose's style of play. Yes, he plays with reckless abandon. He's also young and I think you could see the same type of killer instinct and balls to the wall recklessness early in many NBA stars' careers. Wouldn't you agree that Kobe, MJ, Dwayne Wade, AI, and many others when entering the league brought the same brash "I will take this ball to the hoop and make sure the 2pts are signed, sealed, and delivered, no matter what," that Rose now exemplifies. He doesn't fit the mold of your typical great PG that you can see displayed by Stocktons or Steve Nashes of the world. However, he fits the mold Chicago needs him to be. If it wasn't for Rose's reckless assertiveness to the hoop that he exemplifies in many of 4th quarters, then I think you would definitely see a completely different record then what the Bulls currently have. He'll progress as time moves on and his role players can take more of the load off of his shoulders. Until then, enjoy the blood, sweat, and tears Rose delivers night in and night out! It's truly amazing.

George G / March 4, 2011 6:28 PM

Derrick Rose’s game is currently quite the conundrum for professional basketball. I can’t remember a point guard with Rose’s physical gifts, current production, competitiveness, and potential upside. When NBA analysts start comparing Derrick Rose to his peers playing point guard in the league now and historically great point guards, he’s castigated somewhat because he’s not conventional. Conventional points guards are not the best players on championship teams. Looking back at all NBA championship teams, not one of them has been led by a point guard who was clearly the best player on his team. It seems like analysts don’t want to put themselves on the limb and go against that trend.

Rose is in the unique position right now to defy typical conventions. Can the Bulls win a championship with Derrick Rose shouldering the burden currently placed upon him? Few point guards have had to impact a teams production as much as Rose, Steve Nash comes to mind. Nash probably won’t get a chance to win an NBA a title, definitely not as the alpha dog for his team. The last point guard to have a shot to win a title while being his teams’ best player was probably Gary Payton when he played in Seattle. Who knows how the Bulls future and Derrick Rose’s legacy will shake down. It’ll definitely be entertaining along the way.

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