NBA: The Derrick Rose and Russel Westbrook connection
The both of them have been instrumental, successful players. Both of them have the same explosiveness. Both were dunking specialists. Both went in the 2008 draft in the top four overall picks. Both were point guards meant to usher their franchises to a prosperous future. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have a lot in common. So what separates them?
There are very few players who polarize fans as much as Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have done. They were never even given a chance to be normal. The Simeon Academy graduate who played collegiate ball in Memphis was always special.
So was the California native who couldn't dunk till high school. Rose battled against the Westbrook - Love UCLA duo for Memphis in college. A few months later, Rose would go #1 overall pick to the Bulls and Westbrook would go at #4 to Seattle.
From then onward, they had wildly differing trajectories. Seattle became Oklahoma, a notably smaller market, and OKC Thunder's ascendant star was undoubtedly Kevin Durant, not Westbrook or even Harden whom the Thunder drafted a year later.
Rose, however, was thrust into the Eastern conference at its most competitive in recent memory. The Boston superteam reigned supreme, Dwight's Orlando were perpetual contenders and James' Cavaliers had reached the Finals in '07. Wade lurked in Miami as a playoff contender, albeit a weakened one.
Who did the Bulls have other than Rose? Deng, Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah (who won a DPOY after Rose injured himself in 2014), a rookie Jimmy Butler. The stage was set for a God-gifted athlete like Rose to assert himself and so he did, winning the ROY award and going on a rampage against the Celtics in the playoffs as well.
Westbrook had a quiet couple of years, except when he received immense flack for his Finals performance in 2012. Then Harden was dealt with the Rockets and Russ was thrust into a larger role alongside Durant.