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Fan reaction: The magic of Derrick Rose
You know what distinguishes greatness from talent? The need to win. I'm not talking about competitiveness. Every school and every park in America has someone who wants to win. I'm talking about rituals. Obsessions. Something uncontrollable.
The type of illness that makes Ray Allen(notes) take millions of shots, a lifetime of shots, from the same exact places, in the same exact way. The type that drives Kobe Bryant(notes) to study the classics while other men are leading normal lives. A disorder so profound, it forces those afflicted to make sacrifices with little regard for consequence. To gamble. Jordan played with a fever that would have crippled any normal, rational man. Magic played with HIV.
This sickness consumes the geniuses from every walk of life, from Bobby Fischer to Tiger Woods. Federer to Ichiro. They all have it.
Now, I knew Derrick Rose(notes) had all the tools to be a star in this league. He's riding a brand new Ferrari in an action blockbuster. I even knew he was a competitor. It oozes from his reaction to every play on his expressive face. What I didn't know was that he had it.
Some call it the drive. The factor. Others call it a fairytale. To me, it's a cocktail of world-class talent and insanity.
For you non-believers, I assure it exists.
This comes from someone upholds the importance of metrics and statistics above all else in discussions of value. Who's championed LeBron James(notes) for MVP all year. Who actually knows what Win Shares are and has researched the PER formula.
It is as tangible as every point and it's recorded each time these men compete. It might be difficult to measure, though the way technology is advancing, I wouldn't be surprised if someday we could identify the brain chemistry responsible for it. But even today, if you look hard enough, you can see it.
Seeing it requires meticulous observation.
Examine Derrick Rose chasing down a loose ball. Watch him play point guard, shooting guard and offensive coordinator at the same time. Listen to his obsession with errors after wins.
Look at his eyes in close games.
Derrick Rose is playing like an MVP. At the most important time in the regular season, he has impacted his games like only a handful of players can. He's averaging 27 points per game while shooting over 70 percent from inside the arc since the start of April. He's playing smarter defense and hasn't missed a free throw in the last thirty attempts.
The Chicago Bulls keep winning.
I could choose to believe that this is pure coincidence. The numbers are on the high side for him, but within the realm of chance. Or I could recognize there is something in this young man that separates him from most other players you might confuse with him.
How do we test it? The playoffs.
The Chicago Bulls will be only as good as Derrick Rose this postseason. It is true that the most important constant in their success this season has been their stifling defense. But, in a world where active hands, effort and toughness are a standard like the NBA playoffs, great defense alone never suffices.
Unlike the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics who all have at least three players who can dominate a game, the Chicago Bulls require Derrick Rose to be more than spectacular to beat the truly elite teams in long series. He has to be even better than this year's Derrick Rose.
And you know what I'm starting to believe?
You'd better tune in to the Bulls games this postseason or you might miss something special.
Derrick Rose will win the 2011 MVP and although I may not agree with it, I will applaud him when he does.
With the start of these playoffs, we welcome a new Golden Age for the NBA.
And, the Miami Heat have a legitimate rival for years to come.
Thank you, Derrick Rose.
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