Chicago Dream Team ready for All-Star Sunday


Feb 20

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Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, the two Chicago guys, stood side by side Saturday morning near the top of the three point circle, watching the Eastern All-Stars going through some light drills preparing for Sunday’s NBA All-Star game.

Rose laughed as Wade leaned into his ear and said something, Wade’s arm around Rose’s shoulder. Just two contented teammates.

Sure, but just for Sunday here in Los Angeles getting ready to put on a show. Though it could have been and perhaps should have been back home in Chicago with what would have been the NBA’s most complete team.

As they said in that song about Michael Jordan, “Sometimes I dream…”

“Of course, I broke it down: Would it work with both of us in the backcourt?” Wade offered after the Saturday practice, if you could call it that at the cacophonous Jam Session. “Two guys who need the ball a lot, two guys not necessarily proven shooters as other guys.

“But then I thought about it,” added Wade. “I felt it would be dynamic as well. It’s kind of like two guys who can get in the open floor, who can break down a defense, who can finish.

“It was tough,” Wade conceded. “When I started thinking about it, it was tough. That kid is going to be great for a long time. You don’t get the chance to play with great point guards too much. That was very tempting to me.”

So tempting that Wade was, indeed, having second thoughts. Sure, he figured he had LeBron and Bosh, which we know occurred, and Miami is, like it or not, going to be tough to beat for years to come. But Wade began to think. He could be the missing piece. With all that talk about a shooting guard now, the Bulls weakness is more than that. They need a creator as well, someone who can beat the defense off the dribble from the wing. Even if the Bulls were to get a shooter like, say, Memphis’ O.J. Mayo or Houston’s Courtney Lee, which seems unlikely, neither really fills all the needs from the position.

It’s Wade, though you don’t find many of them no matter how hard you look.

Initially, Wade obviously was using the Bulls as a last resort fallback. But after meeting with management last July and thinking it out, it was Wade who asked to come back for a second look. He was hesitating. Look, South Beach and his buddy, LeBron, were the goal. But this was becoming appealing: Back home with an all-Chicago dynamic backcourt, a complete team with a point guard and center and role players. They’d add either Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer, and perhaps freeze out James. Wade was a bit too good a buddy, though, to pull that.

And Pat Riley supposedly gave perhaps the motivational speech of a lifetime of such talks and it was said to eventually move Wade just enough not to move.

Should he have? Could he have? Would he have? Wade isn’t saying, though we’ll get the first look at what might have been on a reasonable level in Sunday’s All-Star game with Rose and Wade starting in the backcourt.

“It’s gonna be crazy,” said Rose about Sunday’s backcourt with Wade. “We have a lot of great players on our team. I think our starting five (Rose, Wade, James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwight Howard) is crazy. Anyone just about can get up and down the court..except Dwight. It should be an exciting game, competitive. It’s a game I don’t have to score. My team is going to play uptempo. It’s going to be fun.”

Not that the stars of the game aren’t about winning. I truly believe everyone—well, almost, anyway—in the NBA is. You don’t get to that level in sports without being a competitor. But Rose is unique in another respect, which doesn’t necessarily make him a good All-Star game player.

It also leaves him conflicted about such exhibitions.

“I have fun playing (in All-Star games),” said Rose. “I never won an MVP or something like that. I don’t know why.”

Pick me! Pick me! I know! I know!

Rose really is about winning the game. It’s difficult for him to play in a game that isn’t exactly about winning, at least until the last few minutes. Sorry, no, not like all NBA games. Ask Rose about what he’s looking forward to in Sunday’s game and he keeps talking about winning.

Yes, Rose also does understand the fans come for the memories and he is a popular player because of his kind of game.

“I will try to do anything to win,” said Rose. “I don’t have to score. Pass the ball, push it up court. I’ve got great players on my team. You do think about the wild stuff. Last year, guys were coming back to the huddle and you were seeing the way they were talking defense. They wanted to win the game.”

Yes, there are moments, though not as many as before.

Before the 2008 All-Star game in New Orleans, James addressed the East players before the game about being blown out in the previous All-Star game. He said not this time, and the East won after losing by 21 the previous year.

East coach Doc Rivers was a member of the 1988 team in the game in Chicago.

He recalled trapping and taking charges in what most described as the NBA’s golden era of All-Star games.

“I wish we could see a little more that way,” said Rivers.

He’s not optimistic, though a guy like Rose could influence a game.

Rose admitted he was hurt worse than anyone fully realized at last year’s All-Star game from the assault by Dwight Howard before the break. So Rose says he does see this game as a sort of first real All-Star game for him, and a chance for more play as a starter.

“I think the way I play is an exciting way,” said Rose. “A lot of moves I do or whatever are exciting to some people. I’ll bring that to the game, but, if anything, I’m just trying to win games.”

It is an exhibition, but consider for a moment that Eastern Conference starting lineup.

You can probably make a case that at least the top four MVP candidates this season start for the East with Rose, James, Howard and Stoudemire. And Wade isn’t too bad.

This may be alltime stuff.

Consider some of the great starting lineups in All-Star history:

2000: Shaq, Duncan, Garnett, Kobe and Kidd

1990: Jordan, Isiah, Bird, Barkley and Ewing

1988: Jordan, Isiah, Moses, Dominique and Bird

1985: Magic, Kareem, Gervin, Dantley and Ralph Sampson

1971: Kareem, West, Dave Bing, Jerry Lucas and Connie Hawkins

1968: Wilt, Oscar, Willis Reed, Jerry Lucas and Bing

1965: Elgin, Pettit, Wilt, West and Lenny Wilkens

1962: Baylor, Pettit, Walt Bellamy, Oscar and West

1960: Russell, Chamberlain, Cousy, Dolph Schayes and Richie Guerin

This East starting five when people look back in 20 years may rank as good or better as a group, especially for speed and athletic ability. We may never have seen this kind of group if it gets in the full court. Perhaps with Rose and Wade orchestrating?

“That’s two incredibly athletic players playing together, like Wade with LeBron,” said Rivers. “And we have LeBron, too. Like when you play Miami. It can get overwhelming, especially off turnovers or bad shots. You have to have unbelievable discipline when you play Miami. If you take a bad shot it’s a layup. They get out in the open court and there’s nothing you can do. In some ways, it’s the same thing with Chicago because of Rose.

“I think what Rose has done this year… I think he’s the MVP,” said Rivers. “What he has done is remarkable. Early in the year when they were down with all those games in a row, he single handedly willed those teams to wins. As a guard at that position, I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before. I think what he’s done is amazing.”

Which makes the possibilities for Sunday delicious.

“Look at the lineup the East is starting,” said Wade. “It’s gonna be fun. We’ve got two guys from Chicago in the starting backcourt, which is awesome.

“Derrick has figured out how good he can be in this league,” said Wade. “He’s a bona fide All-Star for many years to come. I did not know Derrick growing up in Chicago.

I’m a Chicago guy, so I know how rough and tough it is to grow up there. I’m proud of him and happy for him.

“I’ll look out there before the game and I’ll say something to him that this is big,” said Wade. “Two guys from Chicago starting in the backcourt in the All-Star game. It’s an honor. We represent a lot of guys in Chicago. I’ll make sure I mention that to him. This is an honor for us to be here together and I’m glad we can do it. Chicago is a great city that doesn’t get as much pub as some other cities, so this is gonna be awesome.”

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