CHICAGO — Derrick Rose was born in 1988, the year Wes Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, so there was no reason to expect that the Chicago Bulls’ all-star point guard would be familiar with the only player to win a league’s most valuable player award while representing the Bullets/Wizards franchise. On the day that he supplanted Unseld as the youngest player in NBA history to claim the most prestigious individual award, Rose could recall Unseld only from seeing someone wearing his throwback No. 41 jersey.
“The Bullets, right? Wasn’t he a big man or something like that?” Rose asked. “I never watched any of his games.”
But Rose has helped bring back some attention to Unseld, who turned 23 only nine days before he won the MVP award in 1968-69, after leading the Baltimore Bullets to their first winning season in franchise history and inspiring a 21-game improvement as a rookie. When contacted by phone on Tuesday — a few hours before Rose accepted the Maurice Podoloff Trophy at the tender age of 22 years, seven months — Unseld was neither excited nor disappointed that Rose bumped him by one spot.