Tony Parker, Mo Williams and Devin Harris might be All-Stars, but none of them were better than Derrick Rose in the 2009 Skills Challenge. And honestly, Derrick made winning look pretty easy. (He never needed more than two attempts at any station in either round. Half the time, it takes me at least that many tries just to successfully dunk an Oreo in milk. They get mushy, break apart and…but I digress.)
In the first round, Rose zipped through the course in 33.3 seconds. That was 3.3 seconds faster than Harris, 4.2 seconds faster than Williams and — prepare to laugh, or at the very least giggle a little — 17.5 seconds ahead of former NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker. And that rather embarrassing 50.8-second finish made TP the proud owner of the two slowest times ever recorded in Skills Challenge history. (He slogged through the course in 45.5 seconds in 2003.) Duncan face!
Anyway. Rose’s second stroll through the course lasted 35.3 seconds — 4.4 ticks faster than Harris — and he put an exclamation point on the victory with a sick double-pump reverse jam. (Said Rose: “I always saw Dwyane Wade and them dunking like that at the end, so I said why not me?” Why not, indeed.) For the record, he’s the first rookie to ever win the contest. To which I must objectively say: Boo-yah, baby!
Bonus Quotage:Here’s what Rose had to say about the competition: “[Winning] means a lot. I’m a part of history with some of the greatest players in the league that have won this award. The bounce pass. I knew when I got those two in, the crowd got to me and I came up a little short on my jump shots. I was scared a little bit. But the bounce pass was the hardest thing.”
Regarding next year’s competition: “I really can’t wait. Of course the season isn’t over with, but next year — this summer, I’ll work harder, work on my weaknesses and just go hard throughout the whole summer.” But don’t let his jazzy flush at the end fool you; he has no intention of entering the Dunk Contest: “No, no, no. I told you I can jump high, but I’m not creative at all.”
As for the fate of his shiny new hardware: “I’ll give it to my mom. She will probably cry over it.”
John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “As hard as it might be to believe, the Bulls actually found an opponent struggling more than them. And this time, they took advantage of the soft spot in the schedule to snap a five-game losing streak with a 95-75 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at Staples Center. That’s not a misprint. The 20-point margin of victory is the Bulls’ biggest of season. ‘We haven’t had a blowout win or a decent lead in a while,’ rookie point guard Derrick Rose said. ‘It feels good just to put it together like that.’”
Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times: “Behind door No. 1: Baron Davis. And there was a surprise guest behind door No. 2: Marcus Camby. Despite those seemingly uplifting developments, the door slammed shut on the Clippers once again with the Bulls manhandling them, 95-75, on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Hitting the snooze button in the third quarter — letting the Bulls go on a 20-6 run — was their undoing. Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said his team ‘laid an egg’ in the third quarter. That’s been a second-half trend, of late. It was the Clippers 17th loss in their last 19 games and third straight after Friday’s win against Oklahoma City. They are 10-35.”
John Nadel of the Associated Press: “By beating the Clippers for the third straight time, after losing 13 of the previous 15 games between the teams, the Bulls avoided their longest losing streak since early in the 2006-07 season. Chicago has won six of its last 19 games.”
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “This was the Bulls’ first blowout win since they beat Phoenix by 17 on Nov. 7. With the game well out of reach in the fourth quarter, guard Lindsey Hunter saw his first game action since Jan. 10, but guard Larry Hughes stayed on the bench throughout. Hughes hasn’t played since Jan. 12 and his agent has been given permission to try to facilitate a trade. But Hughes said before the game he’s ready to take the court. ‘If they call my name, I’m going to play,’ he said. ‘I haven’t shut down. There’s still a lot of season left. Mentally, I’m in it. I continue to work out. The only thing I’m not doing right now is playing in the games.’”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “On the day he learned he would play in the Rookie Challenge and that his jersey ranks as the ninth-highest seller in the league, Derrick Rose also confirmed he would participate in the skills challenge as part of NBA All-Star weekend. ‘I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I’m going to do it,’ Rose said after the Bulls’ shootaround at a local health club. ‘This could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing.’ That thought is doubtful, but representative of the genuine humility of Rose, whose next appearance at All-Star weekend could be as part of the big-boys game.”
Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune: “Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro worked for Steve Kerr with the Phoenix Suns, and Kerr believes his former assistant GM has what it takes to survive the team’s recent struggles. ‘Vinny is a really bright guy. Very smart and hard-working,’ Kerr said Wednesday from Phoenix. ‘He’s good with people.’ The Bulls entered Wednesday night’s Clippers game with a five-game losing streak. Being an NBA coach ‘is a very difficult job, unbelievably difficult,’ Kerr said. ‘Even more so when you are new at it and you don’t have [head-coaching] experience. He’s going through what everybody has to go through at the beginning of their career. It’s not easy.’”