The Chicago Bulls will continue to try and turn their season around versus the New York Knicks on Friday night. It will be the third time the Bulls will square off with New York in the last nine days which means yet another reunion with Derrick Rose (who likely won’t play).
Rose received a standing ovation and MVP chants in his brief appearance at the end of last Friday night’s game at the United Center. Many Bulls fans (including this one) yearn for Rose to return to Chicago for one more season in the Bulls sun before he retires. Rose’s veteran leadership might even make sense on this Bulls team if the Bulls actually start playing together more and lean into winning over scoring stats.
But whether Rose plays for the Bulls again someday, there is no doubt his No. 1 jersey should hang in the United Center rafters one day. Here is hoping the Bulls wait one year after he retires to make it so.
Here are the Top 5 reasons (if here is any doubt) that the Bulls should retire Rose’s jersey:
5. The 2011 NBA MVP award
There are two players in the history of the Chicago Bulls to win the NBA award— Michael Jordan (five times) and Derrick Rose. The trophy is now appropriately named after Jordan who arguably should have been MVP 10 times. The award is a subjective one and some quibble that LeBron James, who averaged more points and rebounds and shot a higher percentage than Rose in 2011, deserved the award that year. But even if you want to posture that Rose did not deserve the award, there is no doubt that Rose was a top-five NBA player, objectively third that year behind James and Kobe Bryant. There are only two Chicago Bulls who have ranked that high in a single season in Bulls history — Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. You can count on one hand NBA point guards who have ever had both the speed, leaping ability, handle and ability to carry a team by himself offensively like Rose was able to do pre-injury.
4. He led the Bulls back to prominence
The Jordan Bulls were the sports thing in Chicago and around the world for a decade. They will still be selling Jordan T-shirts and 23 jerseys 100 years from now. For one season, no team will top the 1985 Bears in Chicago, but for an extended run with national attention we will never see the 90’s Bulls again. The drop from the top of the sports world to complete irrelevance made the 2000s Bulls that much more painful — Eddy Curry, Corey Benjamin, Tim Floyd, Eddie Robinson please make it stop. Then May 22, 2008 happened. The Bulls had a 1.7 percent chance to win the NBA draft lottery and an opportunity to draft a franchise lifesaver who grew up in Chicago. The ping pong balls bounced Chicago’s way and the United Center came back to life. Bulls games were once again the place to be. Thank you Derrick Rose from Bulls fans everywhere for making basketball fun again and for us to finally move past the Jordan years.
3. Rookie of the Year
Three Chicago Bulls have won the Rookie of the Year award — Rose, Jordan and Elton Brand who was a co-winner with Steve Francis in 2000. Rose scored 26 in his third NBA game. He notched 20 or more 32 times his rookie year. He led the Bulls back to the playoffs. They were significant underdogs as the No. 7 seed. but the Bulls nearly pulled off the impossible pushing the Celtics to seven memorable games. Game six triple overtime was one of the best games in United Center history. The Bulls won 128-127. Rose played 59 minutes and scored 28. Even better, Rose tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the highest-scoring playoff debut in NBA history in game one, finishing with 36 points on 12 of 19 shooting from the field. The Bulls beat the defending champs, 105-103, in overtime. You could have retired his jersey that night.
2. The Eastern Conference Finals
Fine, it’s not an NBA championship, but outside of the Jordan years the Chicago Bulls franchise has only won two playoff series in one postseason one time in franchise history. That was 2011 led by MVP Derrick Rose. Repeat, the furthest a Bulls playoff team has ever advanced was behind Rose. Jerry Sloan and Bob Love’s Bulls made it to the Western Conference Finals twice but they only needed to win one series to get there. Side note, neither Sloan nor Love won an MVP award and No. 4 and No. 10 hang at the United Center.
Meanwhile, Rose averaged 30 points and 10 assists in the Eastern Conference Semifinals which the Bulls won in six games over Atlanta. Miami and LeBron James were too much for the Bulls, who did not have another viable scoring option to take pressure off Rose The Heat won in five games. The Bulls led in the fourth quarter of every game, but did not have the finishing power. That Heat team would go on to win two NBA championships. The Bulls’ best chance to beat the Heat might have been the following season, but Rose tore his ACL in game one against Philadelphia. The No. 1 seed Bulls lost to the No. 8 seed 76ers without Rose. Rose was the franchise.
1. From Chicago
The Chicago Bulls have the best introductions in the NBA and all of sports. This is not debatable. The instant you hear Alan Parsons Project the goose bumps start to form. It of course started with Jordan and the song has continued ever since. However, once Jordan retired it never felt right. Ron Harper, Jalen Rose, Kirk Hinrich, come on. The only time it has felt right since is when it became “FROMMMMMMM CHICAGOOOO, six foot three, number one, Derrick Rose!!! The pure joy was back for the Chicago kid who grew up in Englewood, wore 25 at Simeon High School for Ben Wilson and won two state titles.
Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguirre, Tim Hardaway, Kendall Gill, Juwan Howard, Michael Finley all had spectacular NBA careers but none of them did it in Chicago as the face of the franchise. Rose took on that responsibility and did it with humility and pride. When some of the media and fans turned on Rose because he was not coming back soon enough in their opinion from an ACL injury, Rose never lashed out. He was a pro’s pro. He represented the Bulls, himself and the city with class.
Rose’s story is not a perfect one, but he is a Chicago original. He is objectively the third best player to ever wear a Bulls uniform behind Jordan and Pippen. Rose never had a true batman to help him that coveted NBA championship. He was surrounded by good, but not elite level players. He got hurt through no fault of his own. His story is a rough and tumble one just like the city that he grew up in buoyed by an MVP award and a deep playoff run.
Whenever Rose retires, his jersey deserves to hang up top the United Center. Chicago and Rose deserve that ending someday.