Derrick Rose has an eerily strong sense of calm around him. He rarely expresses emotion of any kind, from happiness to anger. He plays with intensity and athleticism while barely breaking a sweat. Nothing seems to get under his skin.
So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he stepped up late in Game 3, with the Bulls appearing on the verge of a historic collapse.
When it mattered, D-Rose delivered. Just hours after losing his uncle, Rose found himself facing aggressive traps and being defended 1-on-1 by an angry LeBron James, who threw his game into overdrive while single-handedly leading the Cavs’ comeback.
At first, Rose looked surprised LeBron was playing him. He took two difficult shots against James before his calm demeanor took over. He hit a pull-up jumper, drove through the entire Cavs team and hit a floater, and found Kirk Hinrich open on the wing for a big 3. The Cavs kept coming, but Rose was ready. He handled the ball with poise and controlled the tempo.
When Game 3 finally came to an end, it was Rose, not LeBron, who was left standing as the best player on the floor.
Rose’s line; 31 points, seven assists, and zero turnovers–fell short of LeBron’s 39-10-8. Yet Rose showed courage to take the big shots, handle the ball, and make plays in crunch time, courage he began exhibiting late in the regular season with the Bulls’ desperately fighting for a playoff spot.
Rose has a good head on his broad shoulders. He has shown tremendous improvement since coming into the NBA, working on his jumper and learning how to control a game. He will probably never be the smartest, most charismatic, well-spoken, or polarizing superstar in the NBA, but he will certainly be among the best.
You can bet the NBA free agent class of 2010 is taking notes–including LeBron.