By Jack Phillips, Senior Sports Analyst
The Chicago Bulls are now entering the middle part of their season, and with a 21-12 record to show for it. The Bulls have stepped up to the plate, and proved that they are clearly a team who means business, but not every time they step out onto the court. In my opinion the most inconsistent team in the NBA, the Bulls have lost to many easily beatable teams like the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, and even the Brooklyn Nets. Even with a 5-game win streak on their hands currently, they barely escaped with a 4-game losing streak a week ago. Many reporters and analysts have stated that some of the blame for the Bulls’ inconsistency could be placed between the rumored feud between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Although they have stated that all of the reports were lies and incorrect, fans have clearly seen a frustration between the two when it comes to being the so called, “go to guy.”
This rumored feud between the former MVP and current MIP has been going on ever since the season began. Since Derrick Rose hasn’t been as reliable as he used to be back in 2012, Rose’s play has not only changed, but decreased in success. And now with the emergence of a very impressive super-star shooting guard in Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have to decide who deserves to be the face of the franchise. The divide is split pretty evenly because some fans still believe that Rose can transform back into his MVP form and lead the Bulls just like he did between 2010-2012. The rest and the majority of the fans believe that the Bulls should move on from Rose and transition into the Butler era. To me, I am split 50/50 on this argument because when I watch the Bulls play, I can see that Rose is the not the same MVP we once knew, but I still see a new game with him that could help and lead the Bulls in a different way. And with Butler, I see a guard/forward that can get up and dunk like an all-star, and more importantly, someone who can spread the floor offensively and pick anyone’s pockets on defense. The argument will clearly be a tough decision, but indeed, I believe there is a solution.
Derrick Rose: Derrick Rose has been my favorite player of all time ever since he entered the league in 2008. Chicago born and raised, a boy who overcame adversity, and someone great to look up to, Derrick Rose has been a key idol and role model to many kids of Chicago ever since his amazing play emerged. Once he became the MVP, expectations climaxed and everyone expected nothing but greatness from him. Unfortunately, his superstar level was cut short by nagging knee injuries throughout his career past the year 2012. But now, people only make fun of him and criticize his game because he’s unable to thrown down legendary dunks and amazing floaters. People need to realize that we will never see the same Derrick Rose that we once knew because if he lands wrong after a dunk or tries to cut to hard during a crossover, he could destroy his season let alone his career with yet, another knee injury. But the news could be worse, because luckily, we have seen signs of a new and different Derrick Rose whose main focus is to get his teammates open for shots and only tries to “take over” when he is needed. His new floater and impressive reverse lay-ups have been a clear sign of more careful type of game. Instead of choosing to try and "posterize" his opponents, he takes the lay-ups that offer him a safer landing and better chance of avoiding a knee or ankle injury. I personally respect this man a lot because he continues to strive to be a great player and works a lot even when most of the comments towards him are indecent comments towards his current, mediocre play. I try not to be biased with him, but I still love to see Rose on the court, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rose traded by the end of the season or once his contract runs out after the 2016-2017 season, especially when he is competing with the rising star and talented guard/forward Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler: Quickly becoming the most-liked Chicago player, Jimmy Butler’s game has only continued to improve and is arguably the new face of Chicago. Not only that, but he is a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year Award and possibly the MVP. Butler has shown to be a much more reliable player these past few years with very little injury history and an improving clutch player. He has also been known to be a humble, loyal, and overall nice person on the court. With all of these great characteristics, you might be wondering why this argument is even a close debate. Well, I think the reason is that Jimmy Butler is playing in the very big shadow of Derrick Rose. What I mean by this is that Butler has to live up to such high expectations that Rose set for the Bulls such a short time ago. Think about it, Chicago has seen a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and even an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. All we have seen from Jimmy Butler is an MIP Award and someone who can become the next star of the Bulls. But Butler will never be the “go to guy” on the Bulls until Rose hands over the reigns completely. Rose continues to fight back through all of the minor and major injuries in his career and the more he gets hurt, the more Butler has a chance to improve himself and try to make his name more widely known. To be honest, when I think of the Bulls, I think of Derrick Rose. Even if Butler breaks the franchise record for most points in a single half or throws down some crazy alley-oops and dunks, he still has a huge hole to fill in the heart of Bulls fans. That being said, Butler continues to improve and dominate the league as an aggressive and extremely talented guard and there is no question that Butler is on his way to being the face of the Bulls.
Hold it folks! My last sentence in the previous paragraph is not my answer and opinion to the debate, but I’ll explain my real response now. I said it before, Jimmy Butler has a huge hole to fill in the hearts of Chicago Bulls fans and that task is hard, but he is doing it. Slowly but surely, as much as it pains me to say this, Derrick Rose’s sun is setting on his reign and rising on Butler’s. Currently, Rose and Butler have to share the spotlight and learn to work together in order to get this very talented roster deep into the playoffs. They need to stop arguing over who the best player is or who deserves the last shot of the game when there’s 10 seconds left. Even when they deny the fact that they have no competition between each other, I can promise everyone that this debate continues to flash through both of their minds. With all of this information and opinion, I believe that the face of the Chicago Bulls is still Derrick Rose. I know that the franchise is transitioning it to Butler over time, but until Rose either calls it a career or leaves Chicago, Bulls fans will still pray that Rose can return to his once MVP self. But the Bulls shouldn’t focus on who runs the show, they should continue this great 5-game win streak and learn to work together. Once Rose and Butler finally put all of the pieces together, this team will be scary.