NBA Sunday: Rose Goes Back to Work
Rose Already Looking For Redemption
After the Chicago Bulls lost to the Miami HEAT in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals, he didn’t show his face in the Windy City for almost two weeks.
That’s not an exaggeration. He was so ashamed by his and his team’s performance that he didn’t think he could face the hundreds of thousands of people he thought he had let down.
Chicago wasn’t mad at him, of course; in fact, I think we all understood pretty clearly that without him the Conference Finals never would’ve happened for the Bulls. But Rose is hard on himself when it comes to things of a competitive nature, and that hasn’t changed since the offseason hit. In fact, it might have even grown more intense.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever lifted weights besides college,” Rose told Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype.com regarding his offseason training regimen. “I think that’s gonna help me evolve my game. I know it’s going to be hard because I really don’t like lifting like that, but I’ll do anything to win, anything to get that advantage. Benching, squats, sit-ups, push-ups… Everything you can think of.”
Last summer Rose fine-tuned his outside shot and had really good results with that improvement during the regular season. This year, he’s working on his postgame, which should add one weapon to an already deadly arsenal.
Rose said that Carlos Boozer and the rest of his teammates are on the ball, too. And he thinks that will be enough; no new players are necessary for the Bulls to have a shot at the championship.
“Everybody is working out hard right now,” Rose admitted. “If everyone comes in and work on their game, I think that we have a good shot of winning without getting anybody (new) to come to my team.”
Most would argue that the Bulls need another scorer to be truly competitive, but Rose thinks another year to gel (four Bulls players and zero coaches from 2010 carried over to 2011) will be just what the doctor ordered.
“I think everything was just so new,” he said. “Last year was my first time getting past the first round of the playoffs. Everything was just new to everybody, and that thing is gonna help us. Last year was the base for our team and the sky’s the limit for us.”
Pretty clearly, Rose is bummed out that there might not be a season for him to put some effort towards immediately redeeming himself, but the more time he has to work on things, the better he’ll be when basketball finally does pick back up.
And this time, he wants more than just an MVP trophy.
“It was great but I’m not satisfied,” Rose said about being the youngest player ever to win the award. “I won’t be satisfied until I win a championship. I’m not satisfied at all. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I’m not going to win a championship. I’m going win multiple championships. It’s not a doubt in my mind.”
It’s good to hear him so confident, and a championship would be great for him and the already-amazing legacy he’s built for himself. There would be no hiding for two weeks at the end of the season if the Bulls won a championship. In fact, there’s about a 1,000% chance that we would see nothing but his face for weeks and weeks and weeks after the fact.
I think he’d find it a lot easier to live with that.
Durant’s 44 Points Fuels Thrilling D.C. Victory
That’s not a particularly exciting subheading, I know, but my goodness does it feel amazing to write something so official-sounding about actual basketball. Not who’s going to play in Europe, not who said what about the unfairness of the league’s labor proposal, and definitely not how long we’re going to have to wait to see NBA basketball again.
No, just good old-fashioned competition between the best players in the world. That’s what we got at Washington D.C.’s Trinity University on Saturday night, where Kevin Durant and the rest of the Goodman League studs topped L.A.’s Drew League studs, 135-134.
The combination of fans media packed the building to way beyond capacity to see Durant play alongside (or against) fellow NBA players like Brandon Jennings, James Harden, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Gary Neal, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, and John Wall. We’ve heard all summer about guys taking part in various Goodman and Drew League events, but this was probably the most noteworthy collection of players so far.
With the lockout looming, this sort of thing has been huge news this summer, but pseudo-All-Star games like this happen every summer. Harden, who played against Durant in this game but is his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate from autumn through spring, said more players than usual are getting involved with pick-up games because of restlessness due to the lockout.
“A lot more guys are playing in the summer leagues, a lot veteran guys as well,” Harden told the Associated Press. “It’s a good thing to get everyone on the court at the same time.”
He added, “”Everybody thinks it’s all about the money. It’s not about the money. I just want to play basketball, I love to play basketball.”
Many of the players on the court with him would agree, and when you’ve got a game as close and competitive as that, you’re reminded why so many players would risk injury just to get some good hoops in. They love it, and money aside, that’s the real reason the best players play the game.
The fans love the game, too, which is why it’s so nice to write (and probably read) about actual basketball again. We could all sure use quite a bit more of that.
Reggie Not Quite Ready for Indiana Front Office
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski ran a report a few days ago that Indiana was already interviewing potential replacements for Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird, who seems as if he’s headed for his last season as a member of the team’s front office.
The report suggests that a tag team of Reggie Miller and Donnie Walsh would be the ideal replacement for Bird (and apparently team GM David Morway) in a year’s time when Bird retires, but according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, Pacers owner Herb Simon has not been doing any interviewing and hopes that Bird stays on as long as he wants.
An email sent to Simon asking about the Wojnarowski report was answered with a short and sweet reply: “No… Hoping Larry stays as long as he wants.”
That’s an easy (and politically correct) thing to say considering Bird and Morway are still the guys running the show, but the reality is that for a couple seasons now people around the Pacers’ organization have wondered how much longer Bird would stay motivated in his current position. All that travel takes its toll on an aging, ailing body like Bird’s, and a couple of sources in Indiana have suggested that he’d just like to spend some time relaxing with his family.
He’s got an open door to remain the team president for as long as he wants, but the fact is that he could step down at any time. To be frank, it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see him step down in the middle of a season under the right (or perhaps more accurately, the wrong) circumstances.
Knowing that, and knowing how uncertain things are right now with the lockout, it actually wouldn’t be an awful idea to at least chat with a few guys about their interest in the position if and when it becomes available.
And what better people than Walsh and/or Miller? Walsh reportedly still wants to work after leaving the New York Knicks last season, and Miller is of course the most beloved Pacer of all time. Getting those two guys back with the organization would certainly create some positive buzz in the city, especially as the young core continues to get better and the team potentially adds one or two major to semi-major free agents with their bountiful cap space this upcoming offseason.
For now, though, Bird is still in charge, and for as long as that’s the case we can put all of the talk about Reggie Miller taking over to bed. Someday, maybe. But not yet.