It may take a while to argue that Derrick Rose is the most dominant, talented, or even the most skilled player in the NBA. He is, after all, only 7th in the league in scoring (25.0) and 10th in assists per game (7.7). But what we need to consider here is that Rose’s brilliance on the court is not intended for your average bean counting, next-day-box-score-checking sports fan. The potency of Rose’s game appeals to those who actually watch and acknowledge not only that no one else could have made that shot but that no one else could have even gotten there in the first place.
Not since a certain Michael something-or-other rewrote the book on basketball has a single Chicago Bulls player triggered so much excitement and fear throughout an entire league. In only his third season, Rose can dictate a game’s momentum from either ends of the court, on and off the ball. He has since become the paragon for every basketball enthusiast; quick enough to slash past his counterparts and strong enough to embarrass any of his challengers. His knack for weaving through interstices is in a class of its own, and although his peers may offer some comparable statistics, none can really do so with such captivating poise and unquantifiable fervour. If nothing else, D.Rose has proved that he can produce meaningful results, leading his team to a league pinnacle 62-20 season (the Bulls went 33-49 a year before Rose was drafted).
The truth is that the MVP award should not go to the player who scores the most points or sells the most jerseys; even the winningest player may not receive it. The Most Valuable Player is the person whose team just can’t do without, the one whose team is so painfully helpless when forced to fend for itself. Take LeBron James away from the Heat, and they convert their game into an effective two-man offense. Give Kobe Bryant a night off, and Phil Jackson continues to coach with such clairvoyance that you barely even notice. But what are the Bulls without Derrick Rose? What is Tim Hortons without the Iced Cappuccino? It’s alright. Chicago becomes a decent team that, running around haphazardly, will keep things close but never really contend for a win — nor our allegiance. Without him, they are insipid, unrepentantly neglected, squeezed between Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Volswagen Corrado on a list of things we all raved about back in the 90’s.
So who is Derrick Rose? He is the love child of Allen Iverson’s speed and Dwyane Wade’s jumping ability. He is a killer. He is the NBA’s best point-guard (Rajon Rondo, you would get this nod if you could shoot a jump-shot for your life). He is the humility which this generation’s players have lost. For all intents and purposes, he is basketball’s most valuable player. No obnoxious amounts of chalk thrown into the air. No pre-game dances. No post-game tweets. Just basketball.