With the weight of a city on his shoulders, a bronze statue of the greatest ever staring down at him, and the freshly minted title of MVP still settling into peoples minds, Derrick Rose just wants to play. After winning Game 5 against the Hawks on Tuesday, he only needs one more win to take Chicago to its first Conference Final since the Jordan era.
The Jordan Era. Few athletes have ever reached such a status that they get their own era. In Chicago, Jordan is synonymous with winning, hard work, and above all, championships. For Rose, the number one overall selection in the 2008 draft and the presumed “savior” of the franchise, it can’t be about living up to the legend, he needs to create his own legacy.
After winning his first MVP award and guiding this new Bulls team to 62 wins Rose has accomplished almost everything a player can, in the regular season; Rookie of the Year (2008), All-Star starter, number one seed in the playoffs, and, of course, MVP of the league. Only 22, Rose’s ceiling hasn’t been reached yet; that’s a scary thought.
Still, to this point, postseason success has eluded Rose. Getting swept by the Cavaliers last season was a learning experience, sure, but Rose expects more from his team this year. “This is the biggest game of our life right here.” (Game 6) Said Rose at the team shoot around Thursday morning. “That’s the way we have to go into it, where this is our championship game. It’s important to us. We’re going to try our hardest just to go out here and just try to seal the deal.”
Rose understands that the only true way for an NBA player to reach elite status is to win a ring. In Chicago you need to win multiple rings just to join the club. You look at Kobe Bryant (5 rings), how he’s begun breaking Lakers records, matching MJ in some career statistics, but he’ll be the first to tell you how little that stuff means. It’s all about winning championships in the NBA.
Wednesday night, after beating his nemeses from Boston, LeBron James knelt down in Miami and reminisced about his time in Cleveland, about his decision to move to Miami, about everything that got him to that point. His goal is to win multiple championships; that’s why joined Wade and Bosh in Miami. After all the criticism he took for The Decision that moment Wednesday night was just for him.
Rose needs to go out Thursday night, raise his level of play, and raise his teams’ intensity level. They need to end this series now against the (better than anyone gave them credit) Hawks. Anything can happen in a Game 7. Be it in Chicago or on the moon, you want to end a series before that pivotal game; Tom Thibodeau knows it (losing Game 7 of the NBA finals in LA last year as an assistant coach for the Celtics), and he stressed that to his team.
“[Thibodeau] told us that, but it’s the truth,” Rose said. “It’s absolutely the truth, where we can’t look ahead…This is definitely a huge game. But we got to act like it is.” They know both the Hawks and the crowd are going to bring it. With Miami sitting at home watching and waiting, Chicago needs to make a statement.
That Jordan era defined basketball for many; such dominance, such poise. Chicago fans remember those days better then anyone. To this point in his career Rose has surpassed all expectations and given those fans a new hero. With Miami’s Big 3 looking to define their own era of basketball, this Chicago-Miami rivalry may become something special.
Game 6 is everything for the Bulls. Enough back-and-forth with a lesser opponent, hit first, keep attacking, end the series, and prepare for the real fight against the Heat. Thursday night is the biggest game of Rose’s career. He needs to show Miami, show Chicago, show Michael, and show the league he’s capable of leading this team to Champion status.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.