Derrick Rose looked more like he had been in a Blackhawks playoff game than a relatively meaningless, end-of-the-regular season Bulls game.
Rose drove the lane in the fourth quarter and journeyman forward Charlie Villanueva gave Rose a hard foul — right across the bridge of his nose. Rose was bloodied, Villanueva got a flagrant foul (and a fine may be coming).
“It’s basketball. Hit me in my face. I think he didn’t go for the ball. Whatever they called it, they called it for a reason,” he said. “I was mad. Sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me. I’ve got to say something.
“I really don’t know [why he gets cheap-shotted by opponents]. Probably because I don’t say anything, but I’m a man. Situations like that, you have to say something,” he continued. “You’ve got to. He didn’t even aim for the ball. At least aim for the ball. I felt like he didn’t and that’s the reason why I got mad a little bit.”
Rose has a right to be frustrated… but welcome to being a superstar. Yes, that means you get some borderline calls. It also means that other teams are going to knock you around. A lot. It’s not just you, just ask Kobe Bryant or LeBron James or most recently Blake Griffin. Before them ask Shaquille O’Neal or Michael Jordan or pretty much anyone back to George Mikan.
Go ahead and be angry. You’re right. But know it is not going to stop, either.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.