When LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach he was aware that the odds of capturing his third straight MVP trophy would take a hit because his number would be down across the board. However, with just over 20 games to go in the NBA season, LeBron James is making a strong push for his third straight trophy. LeBron has been sensational this season in Miami and has been exactly what the Heat thought he would be, but there’s someone else that deserves the MVP this season and it’s Derrick Rose. In his third season Rose has become the best point guard in the NBA and his improved jumper has made his as close to unstoppable as it gets in the league. Not to mention the Bulls are one of the teams to beat in the NBA. Despite dealing with injuries to key players, the Bulls have elevated themselves into one of the elite teams in the NBA and Rose is the biggest reason for that. Juwan Howard joined ESPN 1000 in Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to talk about what he thinks of Chicago this season, how impressed he is with Tom Thibodeau, what he think about the job Erik Spoelstra has done in Miami, and who he thinks is the MVP so far this year.
Juwan, what do you think of this Bulls team as it’s currently constructed?
“Well I’ve been impressed with this Bulls team since this summer you know with the front office and Tom Thibodeau piecing together a team and trying to do something special to build around D. Rose. I think they did an excellent job adding a guy like Boozer and uh, Ronnie Brewer as well as Keith Bogans and many others. As you can see the results have been positive. This season they have been playing some very good basketball despite the injuries they have had with some of their key guys.”
I believe we talked this summer around the time of your basketball camp Juwan, and you told us a little bit about coach Thibodeau, I think you two were together in Houston, if I’m correct?
And you told us then that you thought he could be a good coach, right now a lot of people consider him a front runner for coach of the year. Are you surprised he has done well in his first year?
“Well to be honest with you I am a little surprised the fact that the Bulls being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Got off to a strong start at the beginning of the season personally I thought it was going to take some time for his players to buy into his system and keep in mind Tom has always been known to be a defensive minded coach and with him being an assistant in New York…well first start off in Philly and then New York and me personally got to witness his tutelage back in Houston I was impressed right then and there and then went on to Boston and did an excellent job to help them win a championship. But to be a head coach and now you’re not an assistant coach anymore, you’re in the head coaching seat. You gotta make all the decisions and it falls on your shoulders. For him to have his team to buy into his system so quickly and have early success and not only that they have been consistent with it I am impressed and I’m happy for him personally, but tomorrow night I would love to see him lose.”
As a veteran what do you say about the job your coach has done considering all of the attention and the different personalities?
“He’s done a great job. I don’t think the guy gets enough credit for his coaching. You can’t win in this league on talent alone you have to have some sort of direction, you have to have your guys buy into your system and guys, of course when you hit a rough patch in the season like we did. To be able to have everyone not get down, not point the fingers but keep your players believing and trust in your system and going out there and executing. When we had that rough patch earlier in the season it was good that it happened but it also showed a lot of character, it was a test of character and I think we of course rose to the challenge, but now our work is not done and coach knows that. We’re trying to get better and we still have a lot of room for growth. I think coach’s preparation is one of the best in NBA basketball. He reminds me of Jeff Van Gundy, who I played for in Houston, who this guy breathes and sleeps and loves basketball. I think Spol has shown that. I think he and Thibodeau should be in the running for the coach of the year.”
You know all about hype, you’ve been several years in the NBA.
Your college team was one of the most hyped teams in college basketball. Can you sum up for us, what it’s been like playing with LeBron and Chris Bosh this year?
“It’s been the worst situation I’ve ever been a part of. (HAHA) It’s been great guys and to be honest with you those guys are not only great players, great talent, but they are also good people. And there are very good teammates. I’m just ecstatic to be a part of this situation. This is my first chance to play with a talented group like this and be involved with a team as you called it, hyped, with all the national attention from the media and fans. I think each and every player on our team with the Miami Heat has welcomed a challenge and not only that has bonded together as a unit despite strong personalities you could have had it where guys feel that hey this guy is getting more touches than the other, this guy is getting more shots than the next guy. This isn’t about the big three. It hasn’t been like that. It’s been about team. I think if we continue to have that attitude and continue to work to get better. I think the sky is the limit.” Try to be as impartial as possible. LeBron James has got Dwyane Wade, he’s got Chris Bosh, he’s got all you guys there.
A very good player, maybe the best in the NBA, but when it comes down to the most valuable player between Lebron James and D.Rose, who are you voting for?
“Well for this season, that’s a tough call right there because I just had this conversation with my wife. (unsure what he says) …. But to be honest with you, D. Rose has done a phenomenal job this year for his team. I think if you take him off the Bulls team I believe, in my opinion that team would be a below average ball club. If you take LeBron off of our team we’re still an above average ball club because we still have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron is having a phenomenal year and he’s doing a lot of the same stuff for the Heat and playing the same type the way he did when he was in Cleveland, which is great because he’s a phenomenal player. D. Rose I would have to say even though LeBron is my teammate, I’m not even being politically correct guys, you want me to say I would give it to LeBron but honestly I would give it to D. Rose if he still plays at this pace he’s playing on now he’s got my vote if I was a part of the committee.”