Heat check: Derrick Rose gets his own ‘Bad Boys’

Today’s column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Heat check: Derrick Rose gets his own ‘Bad Boys’


May 28, 2011

Twenty-three years ago, No. 23 became “Michael Jordan.”

But Michael Jordan didn’t yet become a champion.

In 1988, the Chicago Bulls star proved himself officially super as he averaged 35.0 points per game to earn the NBA’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors. In the playoffs, “His Airness” then dashed, dunked and tongue-wagged the Bulls into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Where they met the “Bad Boys” of the Detroit Pistons.

And Jordan learned their rules.

The aggressive (and, yes, dirty) Pistons bullied MJ and his inexperienced teammates, winning the series in five games before Detroit rolled on to capture the conference title.

In 1989, the Bulls and the “Bad Boys” clashed once again, this time in the Eastern Conference Finals. And, once again, Jordan tasted bitter defeat as Detroit took the series 4-2 before storming their way to the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.

Come 1990, it was déjà vu all over again for Jordan as the Pistons beat Chicago 4-3 to capture the Eastern Conference championship and repeat with yet another NBA crown.

The next season, however, having suffered enough pain, heartache and frustration, Jordan made like Sir Edmund Hillary in sneakers and finally scaled his own personal Everest. And he did it in delicious fashion, as the Bulls swept the “Bad Boys” to win the 1991 Eastern Conference title and catapult themselves toward the first of six NBA titles.

This past Thursday night, after he crumbled down the stretch in the Bulls’ 83-80 loss to Miami in the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Derrick Rose – the Bulls’ first MVP since MJ – sat dejectedly in the interview room at the United Center.

“At the end, it’s on me,” he told the horde of reporters. “Everything is on me. Turnovers. Missed shots. Fouls. If anything, learn from it. That’s all I can do right now.”

And here’s what we should learn from this blistering series loss to the Heat:

Derrick Rose needs his “Bad Boys.”

And Chicago does, too.

Let’s be honest, since Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls in 1998, pro basketball hasn’t existed in Chicago. Not really. Certainly not in the way it once did.

But, this season, with Rose emerging as one of the game’s greats and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh galloping through the playoffs clad in black hats – and black jerseys – things have suddenly become interesting again.
With Bulls-Heat, we have the makings of the next great NBA rivalry. And now it’s up to Rose to find a way to conquer the King.

In an old Nike commercial entitled “Rise” (watch the Jordan-LeBron James mash-up here), Michael Jordan narrates as images from his youth flash across the screen. He says, “Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy, when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line and not in the gym.

“Maybe I made you think every shot I took was a game-winner. That my game was built on flash and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God-given gift and not something I worked for – every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game …

“Or maybe you’re just making excuses.”

After failing against Miami, Rose offered no excuses. And now we can clearly see what his future promises.

Yes, Derrick Rose needed his “Bad Boys.”

Now, let’s get him his “Scottie Pippen,” too.

Before he became a six-time champ, Michael Jordan had to first conquer the 'Bad Boys.'
Before he became a six-time champ, Michael Jordan had to first conquer the 'Bad Boys.'

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