ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote a column called “The Derrick Rose Story” March 31 about the Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose not being the Most Valuable Player, but the best story line of the season. After reading the piece twice, painfully, I have to agree with him.
Let’s start with my Rose background. I have been a huge supporter of Rose during his three seasons in the NBA and have been screaming “Rose for MVP” at my TV or computer as I watch the quick point guard cut to the lane and make or miss insane layup completions or attempts. I add misses because everyone who watches thinks they look mighty pretty and give him a bigger push towards the MVP. But at the end of the day, it adds to the story, not to Rose’s cause of being the most needed player in the league.
I wrote the previous sentence with disgust because I don’t want it to be true. At this very moment, I’m watching the Bulls and the Boston Celtics game on TV and the Chicago crowd is screaming “MVP” as Rose stands at the free-throw line. I want to join similar to every other Bulls game, but this one is different. I’m lip syncing “Story, Story, Story”.
Here is how my season long opinion changed in approximately one hour.
Hollinger starts with giving examples of how Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett were robbed of MVP awards during their prime because of the stories of Allen Iverson (2001) and Steve Nash (2005 & 2006). Neither Iverson or Nash had their best season when they won the award, O’Neal, Duncan and Garnett were putting up legendary numbers. I’ll admit it, Iverson was a player I loved, but with a mischievous smile, he didn’t really deserve to be the MVP.
The ESPN basketball guru gives proof of the story beating out the true MVP with stats of those seasons and with the knowledge of the voters, media, not giving Iverson or Nash any love in the following seasons when they put up career highs.
Why couldn’t this happen to Rose? There is no way he could be at his prime, which means he would put up even better numbers than he has this year. If he won the award this year, does it mean he is going to win each year he improves? Probably not. Also, is it possible for him to be the most valuable player in the entire league if he isn’t even at the top of his game? Again, probably not.
Then this season’s stats come out. Hollinger points out, If the award was based on the complete stat chart, Rose would be the fourth best player in Florida, not the NBA.
Throughout my love for sports and journalism career, I have been a stat guy. I think numbers says it all, which means if Rose would be the fourth option in Florida, where would he really stand throughout the entire league. I would love to say first, but he isn’t first on any stat list, more a less all of them.
This is the part that slapped me across the face and woke me up from my Rose for MVP comma. I don’t know a single Rose supporter who hasn’t said one of these statements:
- “No one has had to do more than Rose”
- “Rose won without Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer”
- “The Bulls would be horrible without Rose”
Rose doesn’t do it all because Boozer and Luol Deng both average 17 points a game and Noah grabs 11 rebounds a game. When Rose is on the bench, the Bulls don’t look as fluent as they do when he is on the court, but the scoring numbers don’t plummet compared to other teams and the defense actually picks up. Everyone I know has said he can’t play defense and although he has improved as a defender, backup C.J. Watson is just as good.
Guess what? Every player in the league won without Noah and Boozer. Rose didn’t do it all by himself, Deng and the bench gave major productivity and the Bulls have the best defense in the league. The New York Knicks Amare Stoudemire would love to play with any big man, especially two.
For the last point, Hollinger puts up a stat of how teams perform when the star player is on the bench. The Bulls only lose 1.69 points per 100 possessions when Rose is on the bench compared to the Miami Heat losing 10.49 when LeBron James is sidelined and the Dallas Mavericks losing 16.68 when Dirk Nowitzki is on the bench. Other teams are digging canyons when its star is on not on the floor while the Bulls are either build a hill or plateau.
Now to finish the assassination of my Rose for MVP campaign, Hollinger points out Rose can be replaced while others can not be.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook or the New Jersey Nets Deron Williams were on the Bulls, they would probably still have the 57 wins the Bulls currently have or would only drop by a few. What would happen if the Heat replaced Dwayne Wade. The Heat lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by five points without him in the lineup on Wednesday.
All of the evidence supports the statement, Rose is the best story in the league, not the most valuable player.
Well, If he isn’t, who is?
The disgust returns, the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard. Hollinger smacks me in the face again by pointing out Howard is irreplaceable, the Magic absolutely would not win any games without him, he isn’t playing with any big men, especially Noah and Boozer, he is putting up top three averages in blocks, rebounds and top 10 in points, and has more to do on his team.
I hate it, but he is right. No one is doing what Howard is doing this season. The Magic are fourth in the Eastern Conference with 50 wins, but if they didn’t have the big man, they might have the longest losing streak in NBA history, not the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There have been countless times where my brain scrambles to think who does Rose really have on the team. Then I think, Deng, Boozer, Noah and a list of role players who step in and hit big shots or made defensive stops.
The same brain has been searching for people on the Magic roster to help Howard. Gilbert Arenas, no, Hedo Turkoglu, no, Jameer Nelson, no…and the no’s continue.
Sometimes people have to admit when they’re wrong and admit defeat. I won’t replace my “Rose for MVP” with “Howard for MVP”, but Howard deserves to recognized as the most valuable player in the league.
However, the media’s mind is probably made up with Rose. The mischievous smile returns.