Derrick Rose is back on the Chicago Bulls after missing all last season with a blown-out knee. He was MVP a few years ago, over LeBron James. He gets buckets at the end of close games, and the Bulls have the best defense in the NBA so their games are always close. D-Rose did it in his second game back, three nights ago, against the Knicks—blasted past one defender with long strides and launched himself into a much taller help defender, Tyson Chandler, a seven-foot former defensive player of the year. Click here for the video. This is a photo:
D-Rose, on the left there, is nine inches shorter than Chandler, yet you see him shooting from well above the big man’s reach. This was the deciding shot with five seconds left in a one-point Bulls win.
D-Rose is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. He’s a man. LeBron James is a monster. Six-eight, 270. No one said it would be easy.
Last playoffs, the Houston Rockets’ Patrick Beverly dove into Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s right knee as Westbrook was calling timeout. (Video.) Westbrook stood, spun, and angrily smashed his hand onto the scorer’s table. He kept trying to straighten but stayed bent over, holding the knee. Limping terribly. When he did stand, he stared scary-furious down the court at Beverly.
Like D-Rose, Westbrook is a powerful man-sized point guard with impossible athleticism. He needs his right knee for attacking the basket. He had surgery. With the season beginning this week, Westbrook can’t come back because of complications with the stitches, necessitating additional surgery. Sigh . . . .
Westbrook is much less disciplined than D-Rose. Westbrook shoots a lot more. He’s less efficient, but he can dominate and score 40 points. And he isn’t even the best player on his team! The Beverly hit cost Kevin Durant his best teammate: Westbrook the warrior wing man and weapon.
Before last season the Thunder stupidly traded James Harden, aka “Pappa Smurf Beard.”
Pappa Smurf Beard is a scoring-machine shooting guard in a league with very few good shooting guards, and the Thunder dumped him for lesser guys because the Oklahoma City owner/bosses couldn’t afford to pay another superstar’s salary.
Durant is so fun to watch and so easy to root for. He’s taller (6-9) than LeBron, and way smoother. The ball looks light in Durant’s hands, and his shooting form is feathery perfection, hand curling into the cookie jar every time. He’s the top scorer in the NBA, but he’s screwed if Westbrook’s knee can’t recover.
You have to have good teammates. Jordan had Scottie. LeBron left his home-town team in Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat so he could team up with Dwyane Wade. Durant needed James Harden, and now he definitely needs Russell Westbrook.
D-Rose had to take a whole season off to get his knee right. Now he is the tip of the spear that may be the only hope to beat the Heat.
Durant is doomed in his quest to beat LeBron if Westbrook can’t come back much faster than D-Rose did.
Watch these knees. LeBron is a monster. You need nice knees to take him down. You have to be able to fly.