On the John
The sound of greatness
Originally completed January 26, 2010
Hear that? That’s the buzz.
The buzz is pulsating, especially in Chicago. You see it in the bullhorn of national press and the personal pokes of status updates. You see it in the Saturday-night bar crowds that, a year ago, had their eyes on their beers and their minds on each other regardless of what He was doing on the screens beside them. You see it on youtube and ESPN, see it on the Score, see it bursting into the general discussion, see it from people who tell you they haven’t watched the Bulls since Jordan, but man, they’re watching now.
Did you see Rose last night? Oh man! That dunk on the break, sick two-handed flush right in dude’s face. Dropped 37 and the game-winner against the Wiz. Went for 32 on Nash. Straight killing it right now! Bulls baby! Bulls!
The buzz is Derrick Rose. The buzz is “this kid from Chicago.” The buzz is performance and entertainment and athletic amazement.
Last Wednesday, Bill Simmons wrote a wonderful essay about LeBron James and the yet-to-be-witnessed “greatest highlight ever” that only someone with James’s unique physicality can unleash.
But one night after he dropped The Dunk on Phoenix, our man Rose pulled off a move that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen…ever…from anyone.
Late in the second quarter, Rose rebounded a Luis Scola miss and turned up court. Upon finishing his first dribble, he found Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks a half step behind on his right hip with Scola directly in front of him. Instead of committing a charge or pulling up his dribble to let Brooks fly by and his teammates advance, Rose decided that continuing forward was the only choice. He could split them, maybe, but the ball was in his left hand and the space between Scola and Brooks was to his right…
…so without slowing his gallop or changing direction, Rose went behind his back with his left hand squirting the ball between the two Rockets and regaining control of his dribble at midcourt. Now a full step ahead of Brooks (and well-past the confused and turned-around Scola), Rose was two-on-one with Taj Gibson against Houston’s Kyle Lowry, and no sooner did Lowry step up to face Rose did Number 1 flip the ball to the streaking Gibson, drawing the block on Lowry as Gibson put down the dunk.
From rebound to dish, this sequence took three seconds.
The second half of that play was the perfect example of why Rose makes basketball so easy for his teammates. When the ball is in his hands, everyone is open. It’s not just his Favre-like ability to thread passes through narrow spaces, though that helps. It is his foot speed. Rose is so fast and can change directions so quickly and fluidly that he alters the angles on the court. A guy covered under the basket is open as soon as Rose approaches because of that split second when the defender freezes, not sure how to handle this blur of a guard darting towards him. His instincts betray him as he pivots just that much towards Rose, and in that instant the ball is gone, dropped in the hole by that now-open teammate.
I am sure that this is why the Suns love playing with Steve Nash, why the Hornets love Chris Paul, why Utah loves our old friend Deron Williams, why the teammates of Magic, Stockton, Isiah, Cousy, or any other great point guard found life on the court such a joy.
And while Rose is not yet in the league of Nash, Paul, and Williams as a passer, his physical attributes make him a more dangerous scorer. More explosive than the first, bigger than the second, faster than the third. Other than his speed and hops, his best offensive advantage is his ability to adjust his body mid-air, especially when avoiding the charge. He basically curls his torso around the side of a defender as if independent of his legs, his arm continuing that movement so that he swoops the ball to the backboard while his legs re-adjust beneath him and join their up-top limbs on the other side of the confused defender.
All this and still learning. Posted his first regular season 30 on December 19th, and has three more since. Added a one-handed floater to his arsenal this season that he can make going right or left, (a maneuver that beat the Wizards in double OT earlier this month). Improved his jumper with the extra shot reps gained in Ben Gordon’s absence. Is shooting a career-best .510 from the floor in January, scoring 23.3 points per game despite not yet figuring out how to get to the line whenever he pleases as do Wade, Nash, and Paul.
And in two days, when the All-Star reserves are announced, Derrick Rose’s name may well be called. It should be. The buzz continues.
Copyright 2010, jm silverstein