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!
Now I know that I sort of criticized his “business casual” approach to the Rookie Challenge, but this more than made up for it. And Rose’s unshakably calm demeanor (which I’ve also been wary of) was definitely a bonus. He never looked the least bit nervous or under pressure. And to think, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to compete. All I can say is: Derrick, the next time I travel to the year 3023 to battle the Martian cyborgs that have taken over the Earth, I want you on my search-and-destroy team.
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.”