What do you want him to say?
You ask any elite NBA player who the best player in the Association is and they should say themselves. You don’t want them to say, “I’m pretty good but that LeBron James guy…” You don’t get to be that good without some ego and swagger.
So whether he spent last season on the shelf or not, when Derrick Rose was asked by CNN who the best player in the NBA is, you knew what the response would be. Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com summed the whole thing up well.
Thus, when the former league MVP was asked by CNN who the NBA’s best player is, it shouldn’t shock anybody that he answered, “Derrick Rose.” Any other response would have been unacceptable from a player of his ilk….
Knowing that he’s set to resume his role as the face of the franchise, shouldering the Bulls’ offensive burden and being the focus of opposing scouting reports in a season where the expectations are to contend for a title, if he wasn’t confident enough to accept that responsibility, then that would be a cause for concern. After Rose’s season-long hiatus, while he might not be fretting over how he’s perceived in the court of public opinion, he certainly realizes the increased pressure created by his extended absence and by giving himself that extra time to fully recover, he has to believe that he’s put himself in the best possible position to rejoin basketball’s elite.
Bingo. Nail on the head.
Rose’s handling of his injury return certainly gave him a PR hit in Chicago. As it should have — he had the right to wait until he was ready to come back, but his dragging out of the possibility of a return last season and working out before games tarnished his image.
The only way he fixes that is win. I figure by about Game 5 next season Chicago will have moved on and we’ll be trying to decide if the Bulls are contenders.
By the way, Game 1 for the Bulls is going to be against the Miami Heat. Welcome back to the NBA, Derrick.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.