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Chicago’s future looks bright with this man leading the way.

Maybe it’s my anti-bias Chicago mindset, perhaps it’s wanting to prove my Illinois friends wrong, or possibly it has been just plain ignorance on my part but there’s something I can no longer deny-I’m on board the Derrick Rose bandwagon.

I can remember sitting in an Appleton Buffalo Wild Wings during the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery, (I can’t remember what we were there to watch but a part of me wants to believe it was some WWE paper view.)  I recall the giddy look on the faces of 2 of my Bulls loving friends as pick after pick were revealed and the Chicago Bulls had still not been assigned a lottery pick.  In some kind of improbable way, that only seems to happen in sports, the Bulls were granted the number 1 pick.  It seemed like destiny.  Rose, the Chicago born and bred, hoops savior was going to bring the Bulls out of their decade long post-MJ hibernation.

However, if you can remember back to the 2008 Draft, Derrick Rose was not the consensus number 1 pick.  There was a lot of debate whether Michael Beasley, who had an incredible freshmen season as Kansas State, should be the first player selected. While the Bulls had both players in for predraft interviews I doubt the seriously ever consider taking anyone other then Rose.  I remember reading somewhere shortly after the 2008 Draft that the Bulls had asked both Beasley and Rose the question, “What bothers you the most in basketball?”  To paraphrase Beasley response it went something like this, “When you are on the road and the ref makes a bad call.” A somewhat immature and laughable answer but fitting for Beasley’s career this far, although he seems to be coming around in Minnesota.  Who would have thought South Beach, with all its temptations, and Michael Beasley wouldn’t have been the best combination? Rose’s answer to the question, “I hate losing.”  The Bulls were sold on Rose and if you have watched Rose’s career up to this point that’s exactly how he plays.

While I can’t say I cheer for the Bulls when I watch them play or am a fan of them, I find it hard not to respect how they play the game.  They play defense.  They share the ball.  They play with passion and heart.  And this all stems from their leader Derrick Rose.  The Bulls don’t have the glitz and glamour of L.A., the star power of Miami, or the pair or trio of super stars like Boston, New York, or Oklahoma City, but there’s something refreshing about watching a team built the right way, come together, and truly play for each other night in and night out. (Just like the Packers! You know I have to give Wisconsin some love for writing a pro-Chicago article).  And I think that is all a product of Rose’s character and demeanor.  Chicago players know where they fall in line behind Rose and even though he is only 23 years old everyone on that team looks to him for guidance.

While Derrick Rose’s great play on the court has made people fans of his, my admiration and respect for him came after the biggest failure of his NBA career.  Last years Eastern Conference Finals the Miami Heat made the MVP play very un-MVP like.  Rose struggled all series long and the Bulls were dismissed from the playoffs.  Instead on making excuses or not acknowledging his poor play, like so many athletes do, Rose owned up to it, admitted that for Chicago to reach the next step needs to play better, and vowed to improve.  Judging by Rose’s quick start this year he is playing like a man on a mission.  That is what true character and leadership is all about.  It’s easy to stand in front of the mic and be in the spotlight when winning; playing well, and the whole world is sucking up to you. (Just ask Lebron.)  But it takes a special kind of person to swallow their pride and admit they failed with everyone watching, Right there I knew what so many of my Chicago friends had already stated before, Derrick Rose had that “it” factor you hear about and that his failures would drive him to be a better basketball player.  Not that Rose needs any more motivation judging by his career arch and how much he has improved from year to year.  Need more evidence that Rose has just scratched the service and will only continue progress?  Look no further then the Derrick Rose rule that was put in the new CBA.  In a nutshell, this rule allows a player finishing his rookie contract to make 30 percent of a team’s salary cap–up from 25 percent—if he’s been voted an All-Star starter, twice been voted All-NBA or won an MVP award.  Or basically put, if you outperform your contract you will get paid big money a lot faster.

While I wouldn’t say I would pick the Bulls to win the title this year you better believe Derrick Rose will bring the O’Brien trophy back to Chicago before his career is said and done.  Like Jordan and company had to be forged and toughened through their battles with Detroit before they could reach the mountaintop; I think this Bulls team still has to go through some hardships before they will win the title.  But I wouldn’t want to go to battle with any other player than Derrick Rose leading the way.

John Dekker