Humility, talent make MVP Derrick Rose complete package
By RICK TELANDER email@example.com May 3, 2011 11:08PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
There was something about the Derrick Rose MVP
presentation Tuesday that was so warmhearted, so uplifting, so quietly dignified that you couldn’t help but be moved by it.
Even if you thought Dwight Howard (second place) or LeBron James (third) should have won the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, you had to admit this young Bulls star is such a humble, hard-working, wildly gifted, caring — and, thus, spectacular — role model that he is a credit to everything that sport stands for.
‘‘As great a player as he is,’’ Bulls general manager Gar Forman said at the rostrum, ‘‘he is an even better person.’’
Indeed, what you heard whispered like a breeze after the ceremony, as Rose talked with the media while his family, his teammates and front-office folks mingled in the closed-off ballroom of the Lincolnshire Marriott, was precisely this: ‘‘Isn’t he something?’’
Clichés exist because they once had roots in the truth. Rose is the good kid who did right.
He is Chip Hilton, Roy Hobbs or Jimmy Chitwood — had any of those fictional stars been born and raised in the bad part of Chicago and had the social grace and awareness to thank, as Rose did, ‘‘those who laid down the foundation before us.’’
By that, he meant players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell, who built the NBA into the entity that now has exalted him.
Rose is so fresh, so self-deprecating, so ascendant and young — the youngest MVP in NBA history, by the way — that you instinctively want to protect him from the mean, cannibalistic world out there, the one that will try to pick his bones for tidbits of scandal and scorn.
In fact, when he said, ‘‘Last, but not least, I want to thank my mom, Brenda Rose,’’ and the tears welled in his eyes and overflowed in hers as she stared up at her youngest son, you couldn’t do anything but think: ‘‘Aw, man, this is sweet.’’
Because it was.
I’m sorry, it was.
But it shouldn’t be implied that Rose is some kind of wimp, a delicate little fellow who lays down carpets so his foes can walk over puddles. No, this guy will cut your heart out on the floor and show it to you, just like Jordan, his much cockier forerunner with the Bulls.
Watching Rose sit on a stool and take endless questions from a TV interviewer a thousand miles away, older friend and security helper Andre Hamlin smiled as he remembered the boy growing up.
‘‘He is humble, but he is a ‘cool’ kid,’’ Hamlin said. ‘‘He’s not a nerd. He wasn’t afraid of anything. Nobody messed with him.’’
We’ve had giant prodigies, self-promoters and arrogant-to-the-point-of-disgust superstars in the NBA. They are still around, telling us how they’ll take their ‘‘talents’’ here or there, what starlet they’re dating or what new industry they’re sinking their money into.
But Rose, who would be a graduating college senior were he following the normal path to success, told us how excited he was to make Chicagoans happy, to be recognized in local restaurants where — OMG! — ‘‘some people will pay your bill.’’
Rose had 23 double-doubles during the regular season and scored 30 or more points 23 times. For the season, he averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists and four rebounds. Other than Rose, only one player in Bulls history — Jordan — has finished a season ranked among the top 10 in scoring and assists.
As Forman noted, there was only a 1.7 percent chance the Bulls would win the first pick in the 2008 draft, the pick that secured Rose.
So Chicago was lucky, and Chicago, I dare say, deserved it.
‘‘The thing about Derrick is not just that he’s fast or quick; he’s fast and quick,’’ said agent and former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong, who Rose declared was ‘‘like family, like a fourth brother.’’ ‘‘He can go and then stop. That’s what other players can’t do.’’
The future looks bright for the young MVP, but you never know. The future looks bright for lots of young comets.
But consider that Oscar Robertson, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Julius Erving, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant only were voted the MVP a single time.
Also consider that Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, George Mikan, Isiah Thomas and Patrick Ewing never won the award.
So rejoice, Chicago. This young man is special right now.