Don’t buy into what Derrick Rose is peddling.
“It was me,” he said after the Bulls’ late collapse failed to prevent the inevitable and sent Miami to The Finals. “Turnovers, I guess fouls, if you call it that. If anything, you just learn from it and just try to do better next year. At the end, I told you it’s on me. Everything is on me. Turnovers, missed shots, fouls. I wasn’t tired. I was just making dumb decisions, and it cost us this game. The series is over with.”
That is an admirable approach by the league MVP and the face of his franchise. But it’s not the truth, which is, quite simply, the Bulls aren’t good enough.
At this moment in their still nascent development, the Bulls are Rose and a basket of question marks, as noted by Rick Morrissey in the Chicago Sun-Times:
LeBron James has Dwyane Wade. Wade has James.
Rose has . . . somebody help me here. Carlos Boozer? We’ll get to him in a moment.
You couldn’t help but be reminded of the talent disparity in the final minutes Thursday night, in the way you can’t help but be reminded of the mallet that just hit you in the head. James and Wade looked at each other, nodded, went to work and surgically separated the Bulls from their hearts.
The Heat won 83-80, moving Miami into the NBA Finals against Dallas. The Heat won the series 4-1, which is as it should be, too. The Heat is that much better.
Rose missed a free throw with 26.7 seconds left that would’ve tied the game at 81. After two Chris Bosh free throws, Rose had a chance to tie the game on a three-pointer but found himself staring into the chests of James and Udonis Haslem. The ball and the Bulls were going nowhere.
Wade has James, and James has Wade.
Whom does Rose have? Rose has Luol Deng, OK? I like Deng, but the next time he creates his own shot, the game will be stopped to commemorate the rarity.
It is easy, too easy, to blame Rose for 1-for-4 shooting with two turnovers in those final, sinking three minutes. It is wrong, so wrong, to say that M.J. would never have let that happen.
The fact is, when faced with having to carry a similarly unprepared lineup early in his career, Michael Jordan couldn’t do it either. In 1989 and ’90, when a young Scottie Pippen was still learning to become perhaps the greatest shotgun-rider in history, the Bulls lost to the Pistons in six games in the conference semifinals and in seven games in the conference finals.
Against the best defensive team of the era, Jordan was not able to single-handedly overcome constant trapping and smothering and attacking from two or three opponents. So why would anyone expect more from Rose?
The Bulls need a wing shooter/scorer either at the two-guard or small forward spot. And they need to find a way to get consistency for all that money they spent on Boozer.
It was a season that began with nobody really talking about the Bulls as a true threat to win it all and after 62 wins and a nice run through the playoffs, it’s going to take more than Rose beating himself up to change that.