CHICAGO — It was quite a moment for a kid from Chicago who’d not only arrived on basketball’s biggest stage but had risen to the very top.
That moment happened 12 years ago on Wednesday when Derrick Rose was given the highest individual honor in a season by the National Basketball Association.
On May 3, 2011, the Englewood native was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in which he not only elevated his own status in professional basketball but also the Bulls as a franchise. Rose received 113 of 121 first place votes in a decisive victory after averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists per game.
He remains one of only two players in Bulls history to win the regular season MVP award, joining Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who won it five times.
It was an emotional day for Rose, who’d started his basketball journey at Simeon High School, then went to Memphis for a year and helped that team to a national title game, and then was picked first overall by the Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft. The guard won Rookie of the Year in his first season and then made his first All-Star Game in 2010 before he burst onto the scene in the 2010-2011 campaign.
Led by Rose, the Bulls won an NBA-high 62, the most the team had won since the 1997-1998 season and 12 more than the team has been able to get before or after that year.
Yet the most touching tribute on that day went to the guard’s mother, Brenda, whom Rose thanked for motivating him from the start of his basketball career.
“The reason why I play the way that I play, just knowing days that I don’t feel like going to practice or I’m having a hard time, I think about her when she had to wake me up to go to work and just making sure that I’m alright, and making sure the family is alright,” said Rose. “Those are hard days. My days shouldn’t be hard because I love doing what I’m doing and that’s playing basketball.”
Rose had the chance to show off his new hardware before the Bulls faced the Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Hawks. After dropping Game 1, the guard scored 25 points and had 10 assists in an 86-73 win that tied the series. The Bulls wouldn’t look back, winning the next three straight to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
While the Bulls would lose to the Heat in five games, Rose would finish the 16-game postseason with 27.7 points per game and 7.7 assists per contest. Unfortunately for the guard, injury problems crept in the next year, as he played in 39 of 66 regular season games before tearing his ACL & MCL late in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Sixers.
That injury would keep him out the entire 2012-2013 campaign while more knee trouble forced him to miss most of the next season as well. Rose would play in 51 games in 2014-2015 as the Bulls won 50 games and advanced to the second round then 66 the next season, his final in Chicago.
In the offseason of 2016, Rose was traded to the Knicks and has since rejoined the team after stints in Cleveland, Minnesota, and Detroit.
Rose’s MVP moment in this edition of “Channel 9 Was There” – a look back on how WGN covered major sporting events in our history as we celebrate our 75th anniversary. Larry Hawley has more in the video above.