In his second NBA season and just 22 years old, Rose didn’t have to worry about whether his knees would hold up for a full season. The slight 6-foot-3 guard played 78 games that season, in the middle of a three-year stretch in which he missed just six regular-season games.
That Derrick Rose, the reigning rookie of the year, was developing a reputation as one of the game’s best young stars with elite quickness and explosive leaping ability. After corralling the pass from Thomas on a break, Rose streaked to the basket with Suns guard Goran Dragic in pursuit. Rose leaped in the air looking to throw down a strong two handed dunk as Dragic tried to rise and get in his way. But Rose just kept going up and slammed the ball through with two hands, while his momentum carried him to a baseline landing spot.
“I just remember [Dragic] just jumping,” Rose told ESPN.com. “That was about it. Jumping, and I was trying to do anything not to fall. Because I knew being up so high if something was to hit me in the wrong direction, then if you get hit wrong it could be a real serious injury with both of [us] in the air, so I was just trying to do anything not to get sideswiped out of the air.” Rose didn’t get sideswiped. The closest he came to an injury on the play was almost hitting his head on the bottom of the backboard.
And on the local television broadcast of the game, former Bull-turned-analyst Stacey King might have been the most excited, unleashing a verbal celebration of the NBA’s rising star that won’t be forgotten by Bulls fans.
“Oh! Stop it! Stop it! Did not do him like that! What are you doing Dragic? Did you not get the memo? Derrick Rose can go upstairs! Whew! Oh! Oh my goodness! Watch this! I want to go higher! Oh my goodness! Dragic! Somebody grab Dragic and say, ‘Do you know who this kid is? He is from Chicago. He has a 40-inch vertical. And you are … ?’ Where is my poster machine? This is what I need my poster machine [for]! Where’s it at? Oh my goodness! Stop it!”
What gets lost in the excitement of the dunk is that Rose had just played one of the better games of his young career. He had 32 points, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 44 minutes.