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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Derrick Rose needs to get ready for the backlash, MVP or not

If the Bulls can't come back in their series with the Heat, Rose will take the most blame in today's what-have-you-down-for-me-lately society.

May 25, 2011|Mark Heisler
  • Chicago guard Derrick Rose reacts to a call during the Bulls' loss to Miami in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday.
Chicago guard Derrick Rose reacts to a call during the Bulls' loss… (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago…)

From Chicago — A Rose by any other name would be …

Inevitable.

The Chicago Bulls did a lot of things no one expected this season, including the Bulls.

Actually, it was one long stunner:

Derrick Rose becoming the MVP at 22 ... posting the best regular-season record with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer together for only a handful of games ... coming within a shot here (late in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals) or there (the end of regulation in Game 4) from being the team with the 3-1 lead.

That, of course, would have left the Bulls one win from beating the Miami Heat, becoming America's Team and reaching the Finals as the favorites.

That's life in the big city for you.

If it has been an education in hysteria, among other things, for the Bulls, here comes the unbelievable part.

If this ends badly, they're going to take it out of Rose's hide.

I know what Bulls fans, at least, would say:

Are you kidding? No him, no us.

OK, he's shooting 36% but the Heat has five guys on him, plus the spirit of Alonzo Mourning, and Pat Riley probably has a staffer sticking pins in a voodoo doll of him.

In real life, it's close to that.

Even with a token first line of defense — meet Mike Bibby! — the Heat defenders are incredibly active and their focus on Rose is total.

On one drive Tuesday in the fourth quarter, Rose zipped past Mario Chalmers to find, not one but two defenders set up to flop, er, take the charge.

One was Mike Miller, who jumped in Rose's path — just a tad behind Udonis Haslem, who got there first.

So, no, it won't be fair or deserved but yes, wait and see.

Remember Al Davis' maxim-turned-into-TV-punch-line, down to mimicking his Brooklyn accent:

"The quatuhback must go down and he must go down hahd."

In today's hyperactive media environment, a star whose team loses must go down and he must go down hard.

With immediacy the imperative, there's a new reality every hour since the old one is already passe so whatever the story is, everyone piles on.

If it's Rose's status with an MVP and a playoff disappointment, you may be pro, you may be con, but the pressure is to be somewhere, rather than write it off as Looney Tunes and sit it down.

I know, sounds too nutsy to be true, doesn't it?

Remember Kobe Bryant, alleged to have "tanked" Game 7 of the first-round loss to Phoenix in 2006?

That was the season he scored 62 in three quarters against Dallas, 81 against Toronto and averaged 43 in January, one of the most spectacular months in the NBA's dead ball period.

At 27, Bryant was the best player by a yawning chasm but it didn't come up much.

What came up instead, was, quote, breaking up the Lakers' dynasty, falling from grace and changing his number to 24 and his persona to "Black Mamba."

Of course, when he won his fourth and fifth titles in 2009 and 2010, that Black Mamba started looking sort of cute.

Then there's LeBron James, who won his first MVP at 24, averaged 38.5 points in the East finals' upset at the hands of Orlando and was torched for not congratulating Magic players, one we had never heard before … or since.

After the Celtics' second-round loss to Miami this season, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo did a 180 and stomped off, congratulating no one.

There wasn't a word in the press about it.

A day after the Bulls' season ends, people will still remember how the Heat loaded up for Rose.

It just won't come up as much as the flaw in his psyche, shooting stroke, point-guard mentality, shoot-first mentality or his astrological chart.

No, really. Wait and see.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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