Suns’ Gentry calls Rose the ‘runaway MVP of the league’


Apr 5

As he informed the Bulls official scorer of his starting lineup in the Suns locker room Tuesday night, Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry joked he’d rather see Michael Jordan in the Bulls lineup than Derrick Rose.

“But that’s just because Michael is 48,” laughed Gentry.

As he met reporters, though, Gentry wasn’t kidding around when he talked about Rose’s talents and the potential of the Bulls in the postseason.

“You put a healthy team out there with [Joakim] Noah and [Carlos] Boozer, along with everybody else, and they’ve got as good as a chance as anybody to win the East,” said Gentry. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t be [the favorites]. They’ve got everything they need.

“The inexperience that Rose has, I don’t think it really matters,” added Gentry. “In theory, that sounds good—that he’s a little inexperienced and he’s only been around awhile—but in actuality, the guy is as good as anyone playing. To me, the guy is the runaway MVP of the league.”

When asked to come up with a player who he’s seen that could compare to Rose, Gentry couldn’t do it.

“He’s his own guy,” said Gentry of Rose. “I don’t know if anybody has had [his] speed and strength. He gets bumped and it has no affect on him. He’s improved his shooting as much as anyone. [He is] just a real solid guy and a great NBA player. I’m voting for him for MVP. I don’t mind saying that.”

Gentry added that Rose’s personality and character makes a difference being a superstar who, at least this season, happens to be the only All-Star on his team.

“He does because of his whole demeanor and temperament,” explained Gentry. “He’s such a humble guy and he always gives credit to his teammates. He gets 35 and 17, but he talks about somebody else that set good screens or something like that. I think that is what endears him to his teammates. It makes everyone play better when you have a guy like that with his ability. To be that humble for a guy of his stature and what he’s done since coming into the league, it’s pretty good.”

Trailing Memphis by 6.5 games for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, Phoenix has already been eliminated from playoff contention. As for his team to beat in the West, Gentry said he expected the late season push from the Lakers, who have lost just once since the All-Star break, after their mid-season “struggles.”

“They’re playing as well as anyone,” Gentry said of the Lakers. “This team right here is probably second best in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if [the Bulls and Lakers] played in the finals. It wouldn’t shock me.”

With a win Tuesday versus Phoenix, Chicago improved its home record to 34-5 (.872), tying San Antonio for the best home record in the NBA this year. This is Chicago’s best single-season start at the UC since 1997-98, when the Bulls began the year 35-3.

Bulls vs. Suns season notes

In their first meeting in Phoenix earlier this year, Derrick Rose (35 points, 12 assists), Luol Deng (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (17 points, 15 rebounds) each posted double-doubles … Chicago is 22-39 versus the Suns on the road, and 38-22 all-time versus the Suns in Chicago, including 9-7 at the United Center … Chicago has won four of its last five games in Phoenix, including this year’s triumph 123-115 in double overtime on Nov. 24; Chicago overcame a 23-point deficit, when the team trailed 50-27 with 6:36 to play in the second quarter … the Bulls have not won three in a row in the desert since they won three straight from 1987-88 to 1989-90 … last year’s series split (1-1) was the first between Chicago and Phoenix since the 1997-98 season … last year against the Suns, Chicago outshot Phoenix .476 to .414 from the floor, however the Suns shot .463 (25-54 3FG) from behind the arc compared to Chicago’s .400 clip from downtown (14-35 3FG) … Derrick Rose averaged 27.5 ppg, 7.5 apg, 4.0 apg and 2.00 spg in 43.0 mpg and shot .595 from the field (22-37 FG).

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (04.05.2011):

Audio—Suns coach Alvin Gentry’s pregame comments (04.05.2011):

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