Paul Pierce

What to watch for: Derrick Rose’s historic playoff debut vs. Boston Celtics

What to watch for: Derrick Rose’s historic playoff debut vs. Boston Celtics

Monday night at 7 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago is kicking off a week of classic Derrick Rose performances. The first: His postseason debut on April 18, 2009 against the Boston Celtics.

And what a debut it was.

In it, Rose made history in multiple forms and the Bulls battened down the hatches defensively to combine for an exhilarating 105-103 overtime win on the road over the defending champs. Though the Bulls would go on to lose the series in seven games, their going toe-to-toe with the Celtics as a No. 7 seed served as a look-ahead to the promise of the Rose era in Chicago.

Here’s what to watch for in this one:

Historic night

I mentioned Rose’s debut was historic, and indeed it was. His 36 points in the contest matched an NBA record for points by a rookie in their playoff debut, which was originally set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) in 1970. Here’s an appetizer:


What’s more, on the way to tying Abdul-Jabbar, Rose also jumped Wilt Chamberlain (35 points, 1960) and Tim Duncan (32 points, 1998). Solid company to join four days before being named the third Rookie of the Year in Bulls franchise history.

But a less-remembered tidbit: This game marked the Bulls’ first ever playoff victory over the Celtics; they entered the contest 0-10 against Boston in postseason games. And it came just two days before the 23rd anniversary of the most famous of those defeats — Michael Jordan’s 63-point outing in an overtime loss at the original Boston Garden in 1986. 36 backwards is 63. Simulation theory lives.

Team effort

Aside from the 36 points, Rose also racked 11 assists in this one — a marker of the true team effort this victory was. 

From an emphatic alley-oop to Joakim Noah (who finished with an peak Jo statline of 11 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and 14 bone-chilling screams) for the Bulls’ first basket of the game to Ben Gordon’s 12 fourth quarter points (he and Rose combined for 23 in the period), to Tyrus Thomas’ midrange jumper to pull the Bulls ahead 105-103 in the closing seconds of OT, to John Salmons’ block of Paul Pierce on the Celtics’ final possession, everyone chipped in for this one.

As a team, the Bulls held the Celtics to 39.4% shooting. Ray Allen shot just 1-for-12 overall and 0-for-6 from 3. And on the offensive end, Rose’s blinding speed and rare explosion goaded the Celtics into allowing him 12 free throws (he made all of them) while also freeing up his teammates. It’s the first of many perfect basketball games in this series.

Picking on the pundits

Two then-Celtics turned pundits take the brunt of the Bulls’ wrath in this one. Paul Pierce shot just 8-for-21 from the floor, missed a free throw that would have put the Celtics ahead by one with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation and, as mentioned, was swatted by Salmons on a crucial possession late in OT. Perkins did cobble together 14 points and eight rebounds, but Rose leapfrogged him for many-a-layup throughout.

For those both nostalgic for Rose’s prime and increasingly fatigued by Pierce and Perkins’ present-day takes, there’s something deeply satisfying in it.

NBC Sports Chicago will honor the Bulls great with “Derrick Rose Week presented by Saint Xavier University” starting up Monday, June 8 at 7:00 PM CT with the first of five-straight nights of “Classic” game performances. See full schedule here.

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Bulls players have 'no regrets' after airing grievances, front office disappointed with distraction

Bulls players have 'no regrets' after airing grievances, front office disappointed with distraction

No backing down, no regrets from the main participants of the latest merry-go-round of Bulls drama.

Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo each spoke to the media after being fined by the Bulls, according to Rondo. Each gave strong statements about the state of affairs in the last 48 hours and after criticism from Rondo, Wade and Butler said they would have no issues having a working relationship after Rondo's pointed Instagram post Thursday afternoon.

The Bulls had a team meeting before morning shootaround Friday, where apparently all grievances were aired, and the meeting was attended by GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson.

"Good meeting. Grown men talking to grown men," Wade said. "(Forman) has a role and a position and he didn't like the way the way things were said and done. He decided to put a halt to that and hold us accountable."

Forman said in his statement that the public statements were unacceptable, without taking questions from the media.

"We were extremely disappointed that several players chose to speak out after our last game," Forman said. "Every team has issues and it's our strong belief that when you have issues or critical comments that you keep those issues or critical comments in house, that it is not shared through you (media) guys, that it is not shared through social media.

"It's now how we want to operate; it is totally unacceptable, and we made it very clear to the players that were involved that it's unacceptable."

[Scalabrine: Rajon Rondo is 100 percent right]

Wade said he accepted whatever punishment management came down with, but reiterated he has no issues with anyone in the locker room.

"I can't speak for everybody. (But) I have no ill intentions or hard feelings for anyone," Wade said. "I want everyone to succeed in this locker room, this year and beyond, in this game."

Wade seemed more than comfortable in his own skin in addressing his comments and standing as a leader on this team.

"Like I always tell everybody, if I get in front of you guys 10 times, I may not get it right 10 out of 10," Wade said. "But for the most part, I try to say the things that I feel and I try to be truthful. I can always live with that. When you're a leader, certain things you do and say aren't always going to be the popular thing in the locker room. You have to understand this. 

"That's why some guys don't want to be leaders. Some guys want to be in the middle of the pack so they can be liked. As a leader, sometimes you can't be liked. It's the harsh truth and harsh reality. I'm probably not liked in this locker room today. I'm OK with that."

Rondo took aim to Wade's leadership style and the fact he doesn't practice all the time, indirectly comparing Wade to the players who ushered him in with the Boston Celtics in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Wade coolly replied, "I'm 35. I'm not practicing every day."

"I have a professional relationship with anybody who I need to and I have to," Wade said of Rondo. "I have no problem. I've been a big supporter with Rondo out in the public eye with what he's been dealing with and being taken out of the starting lineup and how he's handled it. I have no issues, no problems with Rondo at all."

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

All three, along with Fred Hoiberg taking questions and Forman issuing a statement without taking questions, addressed the events in differing detail.

"We met with all of them this morning," Hoiberg said. "We went in that room and hashed a lot of things out, and we're going to move forward from this. A lot of things were handled from within, and we're going to leave it that way."

Butler, who found himself in the eye of a storm last year after saying Hoiberg should coach the team harder, didn't seem to mind the attention, even claiming he thrives on controversy.

"I'm sorry but I like controversy," Butler said. "I like it. Butting heads. At the end of the day we're all we got anyways so you gotta go out and battle with the guys that's around here. That's that."

As for Rondo, Butler said, "I'm gonna come in here every day. Your opinion is your opinion. I'm gonna still come out and go to war with you. I don't have anything negative to say to him. You spoke your mind, I spoke my mind, move on."

Rondo felt he was speaking for the unheard, the young players who don't have a voice but were criticized by Wade and Butler, to varying degrees.

"I said what I said. People can take it how they want to," Rondo said. "I made a statement. I wasn't angry, it wasn't a rant. Just my thoughts."

When asked if he was sticking up for the young guys, Rondo said, "Yes, absolutely. I wasn't trying to be the bad guy or talk down to anyone, but the young guys, some who didn't have a voice or a certain platform, I wanted to speak freely and say what I thought. I have a great relationship with a lot of them, pretty much all of them, and they got it out today.''

Rondo took affront to the notion the young players don't work as hard on their games, noting that through his benching, they're in the Advocate Center trying to get better.

"Certain comments were made and I just felt like I needed to make a statement for my team," Rondo said. "One thing I loved about this team that was different from the past the last couple years of my career, was that when I got here the young guys were in the gym. 

"I love to comeback myself at night, but when I came back there were seven or eight guys here getting their work in. I disagree with the comment about the work ethic. Like guys want to win, guys take their job very seriously. And they're young, so they needed to be guided the right way."

To a man, each of them felt like the strong words could be productive in the long run even though the drama in the moment has added some unwanted attention in the eyes of the front office, started by Wade and Butler's comments following Wednesday's loss to Atlanta, capped off by Rondo's elaborative and even scathing Instagram post Thursday afternoon where he criticized the leadership on the floor.

Rondo intimated Butler and Wade have influence on the coaching staff, which Butler didn't necessarily deny.

"I don't think like that. I just play ball. Maybe? If I have a concern, I go to them," Butler said. "That don't mean he listens to me all the time, but I would hope that he takes my opinion into mind."