When the Chicago Bulls drafted native son Derrick Rose No. 1 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, the franchise hoped that the point guard would give the team its first marquee star since Michael Jordan retired after the 1997-97 season.
In Jordan’s absence, the Bulls made the playoffs three times in the 10 years between Jordan’s last game and Rose’s debut. During Rose’s first two seasons, the Bulls finished 41-41 in each year and qualified for the playoffs.
Entering his third season, Rose asked out loud to the team’s media day why can’t he win the Kia MVP award. By season’s end, his thought some deemed outlandish became a reality.
At age 22, Rose was named the youngest MVP in NBA history (22 years and 191 days old on the final day of the regular season; previously Wes Unseld, in 1969, was 23 years and 9 days). He became the second Bulls player in team history to snag an MVP, joining former five-time MVP winner Jordan.
“Back in training camp when I said I wanted to be MVP, I wasn’t trying to be cocky at all,” Rose said. “I knew that I put a lot of hard work in over the summer in the offseason, and I just wanted to push myself.”
Rose ended the two-year MVP reign of LeBron James, who spurned the Bulls and bolted from Cleveland to form a superstar triumvirate with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
During the 2010-11 season, the franchise saw Rose carry the team to its best record since Jordan graced the United Center. The Bulls finished 62-20 and earned the Eastern Conference’s top seed entering the playoffs. In 81 games, Rose averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to average 25 points, 7.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds in single season. He also became the fifth player in NBA history to post 2,000 points, 600 assists and 300 rebounds in a single season.