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Believe it or not, LeBron knows how Rose feels

May 25, 2011, 4:20 AM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game Four

People are going to want to act like LeBron James is relishing this. That there’s a part of James who is vindictively and sadistically savoring the kid who took his trophy failing like this. But it’s not like that among athletes, and it’s not like that between LeBron James and Derrick Rose.

Because some part of James sees what Rose is going through and recognizes it, empathizes with it, understands it. This isn’t to make James into some highly empathetic figure, or a kind-hearted, benevolent statesman for the game. James has shown enough behavior to warrant a piece of the criticism he’s earned. Probably not the vilification to the degree of him embodying everything evil, but James is the person who dismissively throws his warm-ups off, who spreads his pre-game laundry out as a barrier to reporters, who didn’t shake Orlando’s hand in 2009, who did orchestrate “The Decision,” etc. He is that guy.

But he’s also a player who was burdened at an obscenely young age with the hopes of a franchise. He was given the responsibility of being The Chosen One (which he embraced with a tat on his back), and leading Cleveland out of darkness and into Valhalla. Cleveland. You know, where sports hope goes to die. I’m not rubbing this in, Cleveland. It’s unendurable what you’ve gone through as a city. But the high pressure of trying to save a desperate people did weigh on James. LeBron was bested in the playoffs by the best power forward in NBA history, one of the best defenses ever seen mechanized by a Big 3 which set the model for what James would later do, by a ridiculously hot shooting Magic team that if the NBA Playoffs were pop-a-shot in 2009 would have won enough tickets to buy the whole freaking Chuck-E-Cheese, and again by that same defense. He did it with supporting players like Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Wally Szczerbiak, Larry Hughes, Ben Wallace, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao. He knows what it’s like to have the entire world expecting you to be better than five men at once, all of whom are actively trying to kill you.

James knows how Rose feels when he sees Kyle Korver missing threes, destroying the only reason he’s supposed to be on the floor. He knows what it’s like for Rose when the Bulls can’t create space, find a lane, attack the basket or get a shot off without him. He knows what it’s like to feel like you have to do everything, and to know the opponent knows that, and to know the opponent knows you know.

And he knows what it’s like to fail.

James knows Rose, more than most will discuss because of the neat theatrics of Rose dismissing James in a text message over the summer. It’s easier to paint Rose as a saint and James as an evil demon prowling the streets of Chicago before DRose sent him packing. But it ignores fairly obvious elements. Like Derrick Rose being a Calipari product. And LeBron James and his crew being thick as thieves with Calipari.

James knows Rose, and he knows what he’s been through. He knows what it’s like to struggle and fail, to be beat up, worn down, exhausted, and constantly looking to your teammates and wondering why they can’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, or what that defensive rotation was, or where they were passing it to, or why no one else can create their own shot. He’s worn the shoes Derrick Rose is wearing and knows how hard it is to face the microphones thrust in his face after not being able to get it done. James knows how Rose feels and it’s the cause of two things.

It’s why James keeps praising Rose, and it’s why James won’t let up on Rose for a second.

In Game 4, there was no clearer manifestation of James being the active deterrent to Rose. James blocked Rose’s notorious floater into the fifth row (ask Josh Smith how difficult that shot it to time). He blanketed Rose for the entire fourth, causing yet another in a long series of disastrous fourths for the MVP. He defended the game winning attempt, twice, forcing a turnover and a miss. Want proof of the effect James has on Rose? Rose misses more shots than he makes at the rim when LeBron James is on the floor in this series. It was key to the Heat’s 101-93 win in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead.

Derrick Rose is home. He’s a 22-year-old MVP on top of the world, playing for a shot in the Finals of a World Championship. He’s shouldering the load, playing long minutes (seriously, Tom Thibodeau doesn’t know the meaning of the world “breather”). He’s going through exactly what James went through year after year. It reminds James to stay consistent, to stay aggressive, to not go back to where Rose is. When this series is over, James will hug Rose and whisper in his ear words of encouragement the same way Kevin Garnett whispered in James’ ear last year. Because Garnett knew what it was like as well, to hold up a franchise, to be their Atlas, and to fail under the crushing weight. Eventually, the lesson goes (right or wrong), you have to go out and find your own support and stop waiting for management to give it to you. LeBron did and now he’s five wins away from the title that eluded him.

But when he whispers in Rose’s ear, it won’t be smug or pompous (no matter how smug or pompous James may be otherwise), it’ll be supportive and understanding. Basketball is a brotherhood, the marketing slogan says. But franchise saviors share a unique bond. It gives James no joy to do this to the MVP. But like everything else James has done over the past year…

It’s just business.

Game 5 is Thursday if Rose wants to delay that conversation a little longer.

  1. edmazeing1 - May 25, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    So what are u saying, that Rose should ask for a trade to a team with too other stars?

    • philtration - May 25, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      A perfect example of the dumbing down of America.

      u no wha i b sayin?

      • hnirobert3 - May 25, 2011 at 9:01 AM

        do u want friez with dat

    • rapmusicmademedoit - May 25, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      he should bring his talent to New York, the real BIG City……….

  2. thekingdave - May 25, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Seems like you should cut 85% of the content from this post.

  3. pdbro - May 25, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Hold up. Did you just call KG the best PF in the history of the NBA?

    • r0llinginthedeep - May 25, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      No, he didn’t call KG the best PF in league history.

      You know, seen as he was bested by Tim Duncan in the NBA finals the year before he was bested by KG in the Conference finals.

    • lunasceiling - May 25, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      Pretty sure he meant Tim Duncan (2007 Finals)…

      • Justin - May 25, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        I thought he meant Rashard Lewis (2009 Playoffs vs. Magic)

    • okcallday - May 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      Karl Malone would like to argue that point.

      • r0llinginthedeep - May 25, 2011 at 12:56 PM

        Karl Malone can argue all he wants…

        He’d be wrong, but he could try.

      • nintendojones - May 25, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        Is Karl Malone even the best PF without a ring?

  4. hnirobert3 - May 25, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I’m glad Gar Forman is sharing Pat Riley’s Executive of the Year Award…

    • heat256 - May 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM

      Forman getting enough votes to tie Riley shows that other GMs/owners shouldn’t vote. Look at the sour grapes being used there. You know Gilbert and whatever sad sack owns the Raptors didn’t vote for Riley.

      • kmike82 - May 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

        Oh, I thought they were sharing the Executive of the Year award. I didnt realize this was the executive of the team going to the finals award

        If you think the Bulls didn’t put together a great team this year, you’re nuts

      • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 25, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        The bulls put together a great team?? In what aspect? Its possible that they have one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA’s recent history. They signed a bunch of good players (good being between an 6-7) to HUGE long term contracts that they will have to endure for the next several years. I don’t see how this is a great team. Yeah they put up the most wins in the regular season but we all know that doesnt mean much anymore. You can pick 10 teams that have a chance at the playoffs at the start of the season and most of them know who they are and dont try because they dont really have too. The bulls just play great defense and game planning during the season is a million times different then in the post season. They should be happy that their coach is there, he’s more deserving of the mvp award. NOT taking anything away from rose he’ an amazingly talented superstar but it was Tom’s coaching that got them the most wins. Not Derrick roses offense.

      • kmike82 - May 25, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        The Thibs signing was one of the off season moves. He’s also a part of the team.

        so yeah. Great team

      • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 25, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        haha touche

  5. anythingbutyanks - May 25, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    After Boston’s championship a couple years ago and now Miami making it to the finals, plus the Knicks and Lakers already fielding or building HOF/All-Star lineups…this is the NBA of the next 10-12 years. For much of the 90’s and 00’s the way to win was two authentic stars paired with a quality TEAM, whereas now only teams that can find and pay 3 or 4 stars plus spare parts will have any hope of winning. In 10 years the pendulum will probably start to swing the other way again, but folks, you’d better get used to this.

    • LPad - May 25, 2011 at 1:34 PM

      The NBA has always been this way. For example,

      80s Lakers: Kareem, Magic, Worthy

      80s Celtics: Bird, McHale, Parrish, DJ

      90s Bulls: Jordan, Pippen, Grant (first three peat had two HOFs and an all star PF) Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Kukoc (second three peat had three HOFs and an all star caliber F coming off the bench)

      60/70 Celtics: so deep HOF came off the bench in his prime

      70s Lakers: Wilt, West, Baylor

      70s Knicks: Reed, Clyde, Monroe, DeBusherre

      Bottom line, the NBA has always been this way expect for the early 2000s. And even then the Spurs won with 2 HOFs and with 1 HOF and two all stars. The Lakers won with two HOF that are in the top 5 to ever player their respective position. This trend is a return to the norm.

  6. kilo0986 - May 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Maybe not that, but if you see your franchise not doing their best to put pieces around you that will take you to another level your only option is to put things in your own hands. Why would someone waste their talent and youth somewhere where they’re obviously not as determined as you. Not that I’m saying the bulls are doing this and haven’t done a great job.

  7. ohkhan - May 25, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    here’s whats wrong with your article…james and rose are NOT simiilar. James often refused to answer questions, never questioned his own play, and had a high and mighty attitude, because like you said he didnt have the help. on the other hand, rose in his interview last night, put the blame on himself, how he didnt make the play he needed to make. he didnt look for a cop out. because thats d rose. im no bulls fan, but i cant help but love this guy. lebron acts like every and-one, every block, is the greatest play in nba history, jawing off about it while the cameras watch him. Rose makes plays that are as good, if not better, and simply gets back down the court.

    • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      Great article matt. This is the sort of stuff I enjoy reading. When you can tell the author really puts his personal emotion into the subject. Good stuff

      • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 25, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        This for some reason was meant to be at the bottom…

  8. Justin - May 25, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    I am kinda laughing at the notion that Rose has as little support as James did when he was in Cleveland. Noah is on of the better centers in the league and wasn’t Carlos Boozer one of the most coveted players in FA? Plus with the arrival of Boozer that put a quality player in Taj Gibson to come of the bench. This is the same guy that started last year when they made the playoffs. Also they have a good player in Luol Deng. No, I think Rose going 8-27 with 7 TOs in game 4 is what hurt them the most.

    I am not trying to chastise Rose either. I love watching him and I have said it in different posts that these are growing pains for a young guy who is a legitimate superstar. We don’t need to write this story just to write it.

  9. danvoges - May 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    thats a good point about drose and lebron having different attitudes (okham or something said this). drose puts the blame on himself while lebron would blame his team. however, i dont know which attitude is better.

    also you say lebron has the “high and mighty” attitude while drose has a humble demeanour… this is true, but again, which is better?

    • Frank Teah - May 25, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      u have no idea what your talking about. Lebron didnt complain abt interior teamtes for seven years. He just played his heart out and lead an overrated team to overachieve. Kno ur facts b4 u post. If your up for a good Lebron argument pleassseeee reply. I kno my ish. PS. In the 09 ecf mo had one 20 point game and shot horribly the entire series. Both hi and Antwan played even worse in the semis against Boston. boozer had a huge 26 and 17 and last night Deng played betta than any other cav ever did this deep in the playoffs. Facctts!

  10. kilroy465 - May 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    This is a perfect reason why the MVP voting should be done after the season. What will that title mean while the Miami Heat enjoy their Championship Trophy and Rings.

    • kmike82 - May 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      Rose is the regular season MVP.

      They have another award for finals MVP

  11. miami4allday - May 25, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I love I love it! Now where are those STUPID Bulls fans? You were chanting over-rated after game one right, who looks over-rated now you Idiots. Just ask the celtics fans about that lmao

    • philtration - May 25, 2011 at 1:57 PM

      Trying real hard to prove Noah right I see.

  12. mrcowpatty - May 25, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Wonder how James would do if the Bulls had a guy like the Worm? Lebron probably wouldn’t show up.

  13. rapmusicmademedoit - May 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    this time D-Rose will be crying and the Heat will get drunk on champagne, oh my gosh…………

    • zman801 - May 25, 2011 at 9:05 PM

      Whoa! Hold on there sparky! Should we just cancel Game 5? How about the finals while we’re at it. So far there has been 16 quarters of play in the ECF. Check the results – Miami won 7 of those quarters, the Bulls have won 7, 2 ties. I’ll grant you that the Heat have won the all important 4th three times but just one three and one free throw and the series could easily be reversed. So hold your cork hand tight there until its time. The Bulls chances are mighty slim but not impossible. And it is highly possible that the Heat’s championship run could get Dirked!!!

  14. rapmusicmademedoit - May 25, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    oh yeah, Boozer is SOFT like Charmin on my butt.

  15. chitownjeff - May 26, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    You know THIS THIS is the problem today. Your crappy whiny article is case in point of the problem with the Lebron’s of today. Your overly emotional “He gets it” tone of the article is what really sickens me about a lot of today’s stars.
    I think Mr Jordan went through some hard times.. I seem to remember Mr Johnson having to have a coach and a popular point guard (Nixon) sent away. I seem to remember Mr Bird having a trial or two at the early point in his career. We were never sure we’d get to the see the very best of Isiah Thomas either. Tough times and growth is what makes a player tougher and separates the very good from the great. Pitiful article.. the concept that Lebron was “disappointed” that Derrick didn’t fall in line this summer and “Implore” him to come to Chicago..Mr Moore have you no shame? Or since you see the writing on the wall you want to be first in line to kiss the King’s butt? Dude.. theirs never a spot at the front of THAT line.. and last I checked he hasn’t won anything yet.

    • southbeachtalent - May 26, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      bitter much??

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