Posts Tagged ‘Isiah Thomas’

First things first: Happy Birthday, Shaq. We’re gonna talk about point guards today. You and Penny should’ve stayed together, man.

Point Guards run the offense, but right now the best ones are running the NBA and dominating debate on who’s number one. While East Coasters praise Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo as the league’s best, and everyone else claims Chris Paul as numero uno, I’m here to point out something that has somehow slipped under the radar of basketball talking heads this year: DERRICK ROSE IS THE REIGNING MVP! Oh, and the Bulls have the best record in the NBA. He put the team on his back again Sunday, but he was still overshadowed by other point guard performances around the league.

Deron Williams put up 57 Sunday (!), but keep in mind that it was against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. And, Rondo needed overtime against the Knicks to assemble that monstrous triple double. Is Danny Ainge serious about trading him? That would be about as dumb as the time he got up in MJ’s face during the ’92 Finals…

The Big O revolutionized the position, but it used to be that you had to have a dominant center to win championships. Magic, still the undisputed best point guard of all-time, had Kareem. It wasn’t until Isiah won twice with his misfit centers and Jordan and the Bulls won six with the likes of Bill Cartwright, Will Perdue, Luc Longley and Big Bill Wennington that teams started to restructure the way they looked at the draft and the way they handled free agency to accommodate this shift in roster power. Teams started to build around game-changing point guards. The 76ers put all their eggs in the Iverson basket (and then subsequently turned him into an off guard). Steve Nash won two MVPs with the Suns (and burned out in the playoffs every year), shoot-first Chauncey Billups led the 2004 rag tag Pistons to a title. Frenchman Tony Parker was 2007’s Finals MVP.

Now we’re in an age where the debate rages on as to who is the NBA’s best point guard. Don’t get it twisted: an argument can be made for any of the clear-cut top five. The order in which they are arranged is the topic of discussion. Right now, D-Rose is on pace to become the greatest point guard, not of his era, but of all-time. He was the youngest MVP ever last year. He’s only 23 and in only his fourth season. His potential and unrelenting will to win put him in a class by himself. Some of the shots and layups he has the audacity to not only attempt but then hit are nothing short of spectacular on a regular basis. He hasn’t won a championship (yet), something only Rondo has done out of the group of point guards I’m bringing up in this column. Just to clarify, here’s how my current list of Top 5 NBA Point Guards looks:

5. Chris Paul: Honestly, I can’t stand this guy. The first time I ever saw him play in a game at Wake Forest, he cheap shot punched some kid in the nuts. Not cool, man. Not cool. That turn of events sort of stuck with me as he ascended to the NBA’s upper echelon of point guards. I only have him on this list because I have to. Fuck Lob City. 19.7 PPG, 8.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.2 SPG Clippers are 22-14.

4. Russell Westbrook: With Kevin Durant on his side, these two have an opportunity to make Oklahoma City a legitimate contender for years to come. Westbrook’s play is a bit sporadic at times, but there’s no denying his explosiveness. A rare breed and lots of potential to stay on this list for years to come. 23.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.7 SPG Thunder are 30-8.

3. Rajon Rondo: He has the heart of a champion, and that’s something I infinitely respect. Arguably, the best defender on this list, his creativity on the offensive side of the ball has allowed him to spread touches amongst The Big Three and keep them happy since their arrival in Boston. The lone NBA Champion on this list. 14.3 PPG, 10.2 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG Celtics are 19-17

2. Deron Williams: It’s too bad things turned out the way they did for him in Utah. Jerry Sloan could have shown him a thing or two. He seems stuck on a crappy New Jersey team now, but that sort of gives him the unparalleled opportunity to prove himself as a leader and a winner. However, since he left Illinois, I haven’t really seen either of those characteristics from him. His combination of strength, court vision, scoring ability, speed, passing prowess and ability to take over any given game make him number two though. 22.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG Nets are 12-26. Ouch.

1. Derrick Rose: Stacey King exclamations and Chicago bias aside, Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in league history. None of the other members on this list have been MVP. Derrick Rose not only tops this list, but he defines the criteria of what a point guard, a leader should be. Who do you want on your team leading the way? The will to win, loyalty to team and the ability to takeover when need be (as he did Sunday in Philly and in the 2nd half last night against those annoying Pacers). Derrick has stated time and time again that he is about one thing, and that’s winning games and eventually a championship here in Chicago. 22.4 PPG, 7.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG Bulls are NBA best 32-8.

Who’s with me?

Ed’s note.
I am. 

 

Remember that pinnacle moment in Mad Men where Don Draper takes out a full page ad to bid good riddance to Lucky Strike in an effort to save face in the public eye? This is going to come off a bit like that, but every word is true in the case of disgruntled Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard: we don’t need you in a Bulls uniform to win a championship. This year. What we need is a healthy Derrick Rose leading the stampede and keeping the other eleven guys involved as he’s gotten us accustomed to seeing. He is a once-in-a-generation leader, a scoring point guard with jump-out-of-the-gym hops who still distributes the ball evenly and efficiently, keeping the guys involved and ultimately creating an on-floor chemistry that leaks into the locker room and permeates their personal lives. These guys are in it to win it. Together. And Derrick is our leader, our most valuable, our hometown hero.

So, why has the topic of trading for the best center in the league become more than just hypothetical hyperbole? Why would we want a player so arrogantly naive he thinks he’s allowed to make lists of teams he’d like to play for? I was happy to see that we were not on his list of potential suitors. We don’t need him. Seriously. No you guys, I’m serious.

In Bill Simmons’ seminal The Book of Basketball, Isiah Thomas reveals that the most important element of winning in basketball is that “it’s not about basketball.” Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, of course it’s about basketball. The most talented roster wins, right? The team with the best players will win the most championships, right? Wrong. I suppose if that were true, even though his Heat trumped team defense with superstar prowess last summer, LeBron would have at least ring by now, wouldn’t he? The point Chicago’s own Zeke (and Rick Barry of all people, among others) goes on to make through his stories in The Book of Basketball is that championships are won by teams with the best…wait for it…team chemistry. The San Antonio dynasty that is somehow still intact 13 years after their first championship run together thrives on this very principle: high character guys sacrificing their ego for the sake of winning. Because, despite what you’ve heard, let’s face it:  winning is everything.

High character winners are exactly what the Bulls brass has assembled mostly through the draft but also key free agent acquisitions from Jerry Sloan’s Utah Jazz. MVP Derrick Rose won multiple state championships at Simeon and played in the NCAA Championship in his lone season at Memphis. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng played under legendary (and Chicagoan) Coach K at Duke. Joakim Noah won unheard-of-nowadays-back-to-back ‘chips at Florida. Rip Hamilton won it all at UConn and got a ring in Detroit. What did Dwight Howard accomplish in college? Oh wait, that’s right…

The point I’m getting at and one that all Bulls fans should embrace is that we don’t need Dwight Howard or any other big name malcontent coming to town and screwing up the fragile chemistry that has powered us to the best record in all of basketball land in this shortened season. We have all the pieces in place to win–now.

Dwight Howard will never be an NBA Champion. We’ve built something the old fashioned way here, and he thinks he’s Superman. Hey Dwight: Shaquille O’Neal already took that nickname! And copycat bullshit is something we don’t, and will never, welcome here in Chicago.

It’s not just about basketball. It never is. It’s bigger than that. Bigger than Superman.