ROSE IS THE MAN, BUT THIBS IS MOST VALUABLE
I've long laid claim to being Derrick Rose's No. 1 local hagiographer. I'd vote for him for mayor if he ran. Sorry Rahm, but it's true.
But with Rose missing 14 full games this season, plus two more where he played limited minutes, it's obvious that Tom Thibodeau's presence is more valuable than another NBA Coach of the Year trophy.
As Brian Scalabrine told me earlier this season, there aren't many coaches who can single-handedly change the culture of an NBA franchise. Not in these times. Thibs is certainly on that cocktail napkin-size list.
The Bulls' amazingly resilient season should be first credited to the players, because as some have been known to joke, Thibodeau isn't running up and down the floor. OK, he is, but only on the sideline.
But the Bulls aren't in first place with Vinny Del Negro, that's for sure.
While it's popular to tout Thibs as a deserving candidate for a back-to-back coach of the year award, the real story is how this season has validated last year's award. Not that it needed validation.
With basically the same team returning from a 62-win season, the Bulls' lack of training camp time didn't matter. As Thibodeau told me earlier this season, the crack-proof foundation he laid before last season, from the optional summer workouts on through his final screech in late May, gave this team its edge.
Aside from myriad injuries, there are no questions on this team, just a nightly solution to whatever the opponents are throwing out there. Rose is the man, but Thibs is the MVC.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
BULLS LEADER -- ON COURT -- IS KEY TO SUCCESS
Derrick Rose should be a leading candidate to repeat as the NBA's Most Valuable Player this season. So um, yes, he is his team's MVP.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau deserves Coach of the Year honors and merits every bit of recognition for getting his team to play the brand of basketball it employs on a nightly basis. The fact that the Bulls have been playing unselfishly on offense and relentlessly on defense for the better part of the past year and a half is more than impressive and their success reflects it.
But Thibs gets nowhere without the endorsement and the example set by his leader and resident superstar, Rose. The other night in Orlando, Carlos Boozer had a defensive letdown (there's a shock) and actually gestured apologetically to Rose on the bench.
Boozer, who has six years of NBA experience on Rose, and seven in life, has said repeatedly that he has never played with a leader like Rose and though it doesn't look like it, is probably playing better defense with the Bulls than he has in years.
Rose in his warm-ups is the team's MVP.
Without him against Portland the other night, a classic letdown after a stirring victory over Miami two nights before, it was never more evident how valuable Rose is as there was no one else to carry the Bulls in the fourth quarter. It was a game that could have and should have been won by the Bulls at home, and few doubted they would have if Rose was on the court.
Yes, Rose has struggled with injuries, but he has also struggled through injuries, playing with more pain than many of us know and playing at a level only a few other players in the world can match.
The Bulls are a deep, well-rounded team capable of being competitive and, on some nights, even defeating the best teams in the NBA without Rose. But there is not the slightest doubt that they wouldn't have a chance in the playoffs without their leader and MVP.
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.