During Tuesday night's game between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, I wrote that while I'd prefer a Knicks victory as a fan, I'd be interested to see Derrick Rose join the other NBA luminaries who have used the World's Most Famous Arena as a grand stage for offensive performances ranking at or near the best of their careers, if only to see how people would react to it.
To be sure, Rose's growth this year into an unquestioned superstar, the league's presumptive NBA Most Valuable Player and the All-Everything engine behind the East's best team has included some watershed moments. Recall the pre-All-Star 42-8-5 he put up against the San Antonio Spurs, with whom Rose's Bulls are now tied for the league's best record after Chicago's 103-90 victory over the Knicks and the Spurs' 102-93 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, or this past Sunday's 39-point outburst in a showcase game against the (admittedly Dwight Howard-less) Orlando Magic. He certainly hasn't lacked for fine performances in big spots.
But the prospect of seeing Rose explode before a star-loving crowd at the Garden and in front of an enrapt national TV audience — just as Jordan did with the double-nickel, Kobe Bryant with his 61 and LeBron did with his 52-point triple-double that wasn't — was too enticing.
Sure, maybe the resulting narrative (there's that word again) would have just focused on the difference between Rose-as-unassuming-assassin/killer-choirboy and the higher-volume personae of those other stars, sort of a remix to the "Kevin Durant is not LeBron James, which is why he's our superstar" story that became the dominant non-Miami NBA meme of last summer. That would have been interesting, but not revelatory; if nothing else, though, it certainly could have led to the kind of hacky column premises that are always fun to joke about.
As it happened, Rose didn't blow up quite like that — it was Chicago's swarming third-quarter defense that turned this game around, and 26 points, three assists and two steals isn't exactly rarefied air. He did manage to catch some of that air, though, on a trio of plays — including that dynamite double-pump reverse up top — that took both the wind out of the Knicks' sails and the breath away from the Garden crowd.
Want to see more? Of course you do. Who wouldn't?
First up, Rose's filthy first-quarter alley-oop from Ronnie Brewer, which he caught with two hands below the rim as he was soaring beneath it but still managed to get back up to finish with the right hand:
Next, the signature two-hander that Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones has taken to calling "The Sprewell":
(Expertly defended by New York, there.)
Explosive, uncontrollable, transcendent in moments and yet still somehow subdued — maybe that's just the way Derrick Rose puts on a show. I doubt many Chicago fans, or many of the Knicks partisans who cheered him last night, are complaining much this morning.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clips above aren't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse the double-pump, the Brewer alley-oop and the vicious two-hander elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association, Get Banged On and YIMzBrky, respectively.