In the end, Derrick Rose gets the job done
BY RICK TELANDER October 31, 2013 10:31PM
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Updated: December 2, 2013 12:57PM
We watched the rampaging bulls rumble through the streets of Chicago, trampling all in their way.
They exploded through a city bus, and then — everybody run for cover! — well, it was just time for introductions.
The action had been on the center court Jumbotron at the United Center. But now the mayhem was in the stands as fans waved their red-light joy sticks in the darkened arena, awaiting the arrival of one man, Derrick Rose.
For 11/2 years, fans had waited while the Bulls All-Star guard healed from his ACL surgery. But now he was here, in house, for the home opener.
All announcer Tommy Edwards could get out was, “Fa-rommm … ’’ and the rest was noise.
Rose was back from knee surgery, and, yes, he is in a hurry to make amends for his absence. With black kinesio tape on each side of his neck, he looked like a fizzing soda can with two pull tabs attached.
The tape was for the neck sprain he suffered in the season opener in Miami against the Heat. Whether it works, who knows. But there was no way Rose was missing this debut game after so many months away. Not in Chicago. Not for the fans.
“I think I should be fine tonight,’’ Rose said earlier, adding that adrenaline would be a major factor.
When a Bulls security man gave Rose some pills and a cup of water during warmups, you knew it was on.
Rose was too jacked up, actually. His shot was off early, but when he made two slashing layups to give the Bulls a 14-7 lead over the Knicks, the crowd roared in approval.
There is no question the 25-year-old Rose has all of his speed and athleticism back. But his game finesse will take time. There was hope he might have developed an easy, high-rising, in-rhythm 15-foot jump shot during his rehab.
But he still seems to have only two shots: something near the hoop — be it a layup, dunk, scoop, banker, or baby hook — and a long-range “J.”
He plays like a hybrid NFL wide-receiver/defensive back all geeked up. Fast, reckless and airborne are his passwords.
There was one of his moments worthy of the finest of NFL Films slo-mos. With 3:45 left in the second quarter, teammate Carlos Boozer stole the ball and passed it to the streaking Rose. Tied up with a defender for the ball, Rose stayed in midair forever and somehow threw a 20-foot backhand bounce pass to forward Luol Deng for an uncontested layup.
Who can do stuff like that?
Not many people in this world.
Yet Rose was far from perfect. He shot 2-for-11 in the first half and 7-for-23 for the game. Adrenaline can’t make shots go in. As mentioned, there is no simple off-the-pick short jump shot in his catalogue, the kind many guards make a living on.
Did we mention it was Halloween?
Maybe that had something to do with the slight oddness.
There were three powdered, wig-wearing Elizabethan fops on the Knicks bench. (Let’s hope they paid a fortune for their tickets.) TV broadcaster Bill Wennington did his pregame bit in a Michael Myers head mask, and Knicks mascot Spike Lee was at courtside in full costume: a blue-orange-blue business suit.
Oh, and the Knicks and Bulls wore orange-and-black uniforms, respectively, like pumpkins in a coal pile.
Rose started the second half with back-to-back three-pointers that gave the Bulls a 49-40 lead. And the crowd ate it up.
But with an 80-78 lead with 90 seconds to play, Rose was stripped of the ball by Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, the guy who had ACL surgery almost at the same time Rose did in the spring of 2012. Rose fouled Shumpert. Free throws. Tie game.
Next Rose missed a driving layup.
He was 6-for-22 from the field. Uh-oh.
And then? With six seconds left, he floated above everyone on the right baseline and dropped in a one-hand teardrop from eight feet.
Hard shot? For a 6-3 dude over 6-8 Carmelo Anthony and 7-1 Tyson Chandler?
“That’s my first floater, I think, of the season,’’ Rose said.
Yep, we forgot the floater.
“Hell of a shot,’’ amazed Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
With his blank face and deep monotone, Rose said simply of all his missed shots before the winner, “I can’t think about that.’’
Not when there’s chaos everywhere, and people to entertain.
So the Bulls won 82-81. And Rose was the hero.
All were sated. It was a long time coming.