The ball rolled back near halfcourt with approximately three seconds left on the shot clock for Derrick Rose late in the fourth quarter, as his good eye was good enough to evaluate how much time was left to negotiate a score.
His eyes went up then down to Markel Brown’s feet, as that made the decision for him as far as whether he would drive or pull up for a jumper, never mind being 45 feet away from the basket.
Flat-footed Brown meant a Rose acceleration.
“That’s why I drove by him and saw no one was stepping up and I could get a shot up,” Rose said. “As soon as I got the ball I knew I was in attack mode.”
In the blink of an eye Rose darted to the basket, and dropped in a seven-foot floater before the shot clock buzzer even went off—and certainly before any woeful Brooklyn Net defender dared make a move.
Considering Rose still has trouble with double vision, one wonders how he could actually see the shot clock from such a distance.
“No, it wasn’t hard,” Rose said. “I don’t know why, but right when I saw it I looked at the clock and saw I had three seconds to get to the rim and I was trying to get fouled but they didn’t foul me.”
Considering his body has betrayed him in a cruel way, attempting to rob him of the blazing speed and athleticism that makes him so special, Rose’s basketball mind in the moment is razor sharp, not willing to yield an inch.
What does Rose think in those instances, where a millisecond can make the world of a difference?
“If it’s any defenders on the same side, thinking about what shot I can get off, thinking about if someone is open. I’m looking at the time,” said Rose calmly as he exited the visitor’s locker room at Barclays Center.
Rose brushed off the notion of that type of quick-twitched robotic thinking is exclusive to him or even professionals, while admitting the God-given ability grants him a step above most basketball mortals.
“I don’t know, it just comes with playing,” he said almost sheepishly. “Having the ability to do it, I think every hooper does it… I’m just able to get off certain times of shots.”
In his mind, the ability to do it on call hasn’t left him, even if that blur doesn’t happen as much as many or even he would like at this embryonic stage.
“It’s mind. The game, they say is 95 percent mental,” Rose said. “If you get into somebody’s mental it’s game over. It’s about reading the game, me being a point guard and making it easy for everybody.”
[NBC SHOP: Buy a Derrick Rose jersey]
Of all the things to consider: the defense, his teammates, the clock, his body, it’s tough to remember he’s playing with one eye, and he’s rebuilding his game from all the damage life has done to it.
“Right now I can’t see like that, so getting in the lane, being creative, getting floaters truing to get contact,” said Rose when asked what stage he was in as far as his personal rebuilding. “Defenses are so keyed into me, guys are open, so that’s why I say I want Jimmy (Butler) to shoot more 3’s. He can knock those shots down.”
Scoring 15 points and three assists certainly won’t lead anyone to think the days of 2011 are here again, but going to the basket in the first two games means his mind is starting to catch up with what everybody sees.
“It’s only two games. We always have room to improve,” Rose said. “We’ve had some ups and downs but we gotta get better.”
The “We” could be substituted for an “I”, as the likelihood of him rounding into a more consistent player seems more and more evident.
So if you’re flat-footed, you might have already lost, even before the body gets moving.
Because the mind never stops.