Lucky Us

If you’re like me, you’re excited for tonight’s Pacers-Bulls game at the United Center, which promises to be extra chippy and a little bit playoffish. Derrick Rose is excited:

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose hasn’t forgotten the way the Indiana Pacers celebrated on the United Center floor after a win on Jan. 25, and he is looking forward to facing them again on Monday night at the UC.

“I haven’t forgotten about anything,” Rose said Sunday night after a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. “I remember that.”

I’m sure he said it in a very reserved, respectful manner, too. Rose operates like a guy out of a Bourne movie. I don’t think he’s ever liked this Pacers team. Remember Game 1 of the playoffs last year?

Hop ahead to the 4:45 mark. ANGRY. And these guys had the audacity to celebrate in Rose’s building, so now he’s going to hate them forever.

When you consider the elite caliber of athlete that fills every NBA roster spot, you’d think you’d find more players that seem to be fanatical self-motivators. After all, these are very driven people, many of them perfectionists. But, for some reason, it seems rare. With Rose, you can actually see him looking to settle scores, whether it’s going against Chris Paul, dropping a grimly efficient 35-4-8 to avenge a loss to the Sixers. How fortunate are we, as Bulls fans, that we’re getting the chance to watch another dynamic, MVP-caliber guard who fuels himself by righting real or perceived wrongs like some kind of vigilante sheriff roaming the West?

Go to 6:44 for some Jordan at his violently vindictive zenith (sure, he would remain just as cold-blooded in later years, but by that time he would more frequently take over from mid-to-long range; in ’92 and ’93 he would physically assault people at the rim). The Knicks resurrected the Detroit formula for beating Jordan by literally beating him and stole Game 1 at the Stadium in 1992, leading to a seven game brawl that culminated with a 30-point win in Game 7, due in large part to a maniacal 42-6-4-3 from Jordan, who seemed to personally relish ending New York’s season the way me or you might enjoy a fine steak or an exceptional whiskey. I would assume that, to this day, he’s pretty satisfied that the Ewing/Riley Era Knicks never won anything.

Now, I’m not going down the “next MJ!!!” path, because that’s dumb. I’m not even saying that Derrick Rose is emulating Jordan’s near-homicidal competitiveness – I actually hope he doesn’t, because as we’ve seen, Jordan carried it to a point where he was almost unable to function as a normal human being. I’m just merely pointing out that I’m going to soak all this up while it lasts, because I think we’ve caught lightning in a bottle twice, and it won’t happen again.

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