Even if you’re not a fan of the Chicago Bulls or the NBA in general, it’s likely that you know all about Derrick Rose and the problems he’s faced in recent years. While at one time he was considered by some as the next Michael Jordan, he has since fallen into hard times due to a series of unfortunate injuries.
But even if Rose were at his athletic peak, he still would be unable to bring the championship home to Chicago.
Most people don’t really seem to say it as much as they should, but not even Jordan, the greatest player the league has ever seen, was able to win a championship on his own. He needed Scottie Pippen, and later Dennis Rodman, to beef out the team’s offensive and defensive capabilities and help propel Chicago to its championship glory.
Superstars are great at winning games and breaking records, but they are at a fault when it comes to bringing home the championship by themselves.
From 1999 to 2002, the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the most dominant teams in the league. It was the effective pairing of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal that brought L.A. their three-peat. When they parted ways, the Lakers were in shambles as Kobe tried to right the ship on his own.
To better illustrate my point that great pairings bring home the championship, let’s take a look at a few classic NBA lineups. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won five championships with the Lakers in the 1980s; the other popular pair at the time, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, won three championships for the Boston Celtics; and finally, the the two principal members of the “Bad Boys”, Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, won two back-to-back titles for the Detroit Pistons.
All of these men were effective players who did fine on their own but became even greater with that equally talented teammate alongside them.
Of course, the most obvious modern example is the Miami Heat, a team whose entire success of the last three years can be hoisted upon the shoulders of their superstars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It would be remiss to not compare the similarities between James and Rose. It’s honestly debatable whether James would ever have gotten a championship without a star in his corner as well. Unlike James, I would hope that Rose would stay with the team and wait it out for his backup star instead of legging it to another team.
But when will Rose get his Shaq? Or his Pippen? Will he ever get his backup star? Only time will tell.
Again, if Rose had that second star in his corner, a strong defense and a capable coaching staff, it’s almost a given that the Bulls will win several titles. Sadly, the Bulls are not providing this right now. Until that day comes, the Bulls will be nothing more than an excellent regular season team that folds when the time comes for the championship.