It’s no coincidence that the three biggest names in the free-agent sweepstakes of 2010 were also the biggest performers for the Eastern All-Stars at this year’s All-Star game in Dallas. It was the largest crowd on hand ever for a basketball game of any level at any time (over 108,000), with the biggest high-definition screen ever made hanging above it (I’d be watching that instead of the game itself), so what better place to pull out all the stops and practically scream “Get out your checkbook if you want me, (insert team name here)!”
With Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh scoring 28, 25 and 23 points, respectively, the Bulls got yet another glimpse of the enormous talent pool that has a select number of financially-prepared teams licking their chops.
And yet, what team – what person on the planet, for that matter – really needed this All-Star game to realize how much value Wade, Bosh, or James offer? None.
One could argue that this game was of greater importance to a player like Derrick Rose to perform well. Why? Not to prove that he’s an amazing point guard with lightning speed and jump shot accuracy that Rajon Rondo would sell his entire headband collection to possess. And not to prove that he means everything to the Bulls from a value and skill standpoint.
But if the Bulls are going to woo a big name, an eye-popping performance by Derrick Rose in a game of this magnitude certainly couldn’t have hurt. What better game – one in which you actually are a teammate – to show how good a teammate you could be?
As it stood, Rose finished the game with a respectable 4-of-8 shooting, with 8 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Not bad, especially considering he was limited to 15 minutes of playing time. But given that the relaxed play of an All-Star game usually brings a bounty of steals (Wade alone had 5), Rose’s three loses it’s sheen. And next to Wade’s 11 assists, Rose’s 4 looks down-right dainty.
This isn’t to say that rose should have been one of the top performers at this year’s All-Star game. He’s still getting his bearings as a leader on his own team much less as a leader on a team of All-Stars. But make no mistake, the best way to lure a superstar player to Chicago, or any team, is to make that player think he’s walking into a great situation with championship potential, while still feeling confident he will be the number one name on the marquis. For this enormously visible game, a stronger showing by Rose, though not necessarily an MVP-winning one, would have been a nice jewel in the “Why to come to Chicago” crown.
In the end, the decisions of Wade, James and Bosh may all come down to dollar signs, but players do tend to have a canny sense of legacy as much as they do business. Yes, the shadow of Michael, as discussed here on Friday, may turn away a player like LeBron, but that shadow has faded enough to be a minimal obstacle to the likes of Wade or Bosh.
It is the shadow of Rose, and how great a compliment he could be to an incoming star, that is more relevant than any these days.