Few current or former players can relate to Derrick Rose’s rise to greatness like Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.
Thomas, a two-time NBA champion and a native of Chicago’s West Side, said on Tuesday’s “Waddle & Silvy Show” that several local greats who came before Rose must be watching his breakout season with a large measure of envy.
“Every Chicago kid that grew up in Chicago, he’s living all our dreams,” Thomas said. “Mark Aguirre, myself, Doc Rivers, Michael Finley, we all grew up wanting to play for the Bulls and play in Chicago. So I'm glad Derrick Rose is living all our dreams.”
As for Rose’s production, Thomas gave him the edge in the league’s MVP race.
“He’s excelling,” Thomas said of Rose. “He’s playing at an MVP level. You look at what he’s doing right now ... I can’t really see anyone else who you can throw in the category of the MVP race in terms of what he’s doing and what’s expected. You also have to give some credit to coach [Tom] Thibodeau because he’s done an exceptional job. When you look at the job that he’s done from a coaching standpoint, it’s definitely allowed Rose to be the MVP of the league. But if you got the MVP of the league, you also have the coach of the year in coach Thibodeau.”
Going back several years, Thomas reflected on his actions after the Bulls eliminated Thomas’ Detroit Pistons from the 1991 NBA playoffs. Then the defending champs, Thomas and the Pistons were swept by the up-and-coming Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals. After the defeat, Thomas and his teammates walked off the court without shaking the opposition’s hand. Thomas admitted he regrets his actions.
“There’s two answers to that,” Thomas said when asked about the snub. “The first answer is … when we beat the Celtics to take the torch from the Celtics, Boston walked off the court [without shaking hands]. …When we passed the torch to the Bulls, we did what Boston did to us. Now, should we have shaken their hands? Yes. Was it poor sportsmanship? Yes. If we had to do it all over again would all of us do it differently? Yes. But the way the torch was passed to us, that’s the way we passed the torch to the Bulls. Then, after that, it became a more kinder, gentler NBA where everybody you know, hugs, shakes hands before the game and you know you do all the other stuff that you do. Back then, when you lost people ran off the court. … “
While on the subject of the Bad Boy Pistons and the Bulls’ dynasty, Thomas came out in support of a player who won titles on both sides. Thomas hopes that this is the year Dennis Rodman joins him in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Most definitely. [Rodman] should have been in a long time ago,” Thomas said. “He won like five or six championships, eight rebounding titles, two defensive player of the year titles. I don’t see anyone in our era of basketball that’s done more than him. …”