I have to admit that the sick excitement I felt after this win…
…gave way to an even sicker sense of dread after reading the Booz news from K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
“Carlos Boozer didn’t travel on Sunday with the team to Memphis, meaning Monday’s matinee will feature this season’s first game without Boozer and Joakim Noah. Boozer sprained his left ankle just before Kyle Korver’s game-winning shot with 25.5 seconds left in Saturday’s 99-96 victory over the Heat. The team is calling him day-to-day, but there is concern Boozer, one of just four players in the NBA averaging a double-double, will miss all four games this week because of the ankle’s significant swelling.”
Said Boozer: “This is not my first twisted ankle. But it’s a bad one. It’s pretty swollen.”
Not the way you want to celebrate a big win. Of course, Boozer’s boo-boo wasn’t the only wet blanked that got thrown on what should have been a very satisfying victory.
To wit: The Heat were without LeBron James, who sat out with a sprained ankle of his own, and had to play the fourth quarter without Chris Bosh, who hurt his ankle at the end of the third.
I guess it’s just been a bad week for ankles all around.
But, oh man, this game. Derrick Rose (a game-high 34 points, a game-best 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) dueled Dwyane Wade (33 points, 6 rebounds, a game-high 5 blocks and 4 assists)…and won.
Rose stepped up to the challenge. He proved — in case anybody was still in doubt — that he’s no longer a superstar in the making. He’s a superstar. Period.
D-Wade’s a believer.
Said Wade: “Derrick is one of the great players in the game today and probably will be for a long time to come. You don’t see a point guard with the ability he has. And now he’s added an outside shot to his arsenal. Chicago’s got a good one.”
Don’t we know it.
Mind you, the Windy City is pretty spoiled. The Greatest Of All Time was here. The player against whom all players are measured was a member of the Chicago Bulls. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have more championships. That old lion, Bill Russell, won more rings. But Michael Jordan was, is and might always be The Man.
But he’s gone. And at long last the Bulls have another great one.
The post-Jordan era has been rough. There have been bad teams. Very bad teams. For a while, things go so bad we were ready to annoint those old Deng-Gordon-Hinrich-Nocioni squads. What a whiff that was.
But this is, without question, the best Bulls team since MJ retired the second time. They’re for real. They’re becoming a legit power in the league.
And D-Rose is the foundation.
He’s talented. Driven. Humble. Cares about nothing but winning.
That why I bristle when people call him a volume shooter or claim he’s not elite because he doesn’t get to the line often enough. Rose isn’t like any player we’ve ever seen. He doesn’t care about numbers. He only does what he does to help his team win. Whatever it takes.
That’s what he did against the Heat.
Said Rose: “During [crunch time], everybody knows who’s going to get the ball. nI think it was like four or five minutes left … you know who’s going to get the ball. And it’s about will. What are you going to do to get this win?”
If you’re coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls, you give it to Rose and get out of the way.