Of course, that might have more to do with the fact I eat, breathe, and sleep Miami sports, and the Miami Heat in particular, than it does with how great my memory is.
Nah, truth be told, I’ve got a very good memory. Might wanna remember that, haters!
Anyway, the night in question was November 5, 2008. It was a game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers at AmericaAirlines Arena, and was just the fourth game of Mario Chalmers career.
Yet, that game forever changed the perception Miami Heat fans had of Mario Chalmers. From that moment on, he had “potential.”
Coming out of college Almario Vernard “Mario” Chalmers wasn’t seen as some potential savior of the Miami franchise. That designation belonged to the Heat’s first-round, second-overall pick Michael Beasley out of Kansas State.
In fact, Miami didn’t even draft Chalmers, instead acquiring him from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had drafted him with their thirty-fourth pick, for two 2009 second-round picks and cash considerations. November 5 would change people’s view of “Mario” instantly.
In that game he was stellar on defense, setting a Miami Heat franchise record recording 9 steals in a 106-83 win for the Heat over the 76ers.
His nine steals also tied him with Quinn Buckner of the Milwaukee Bucks for the second-most steals by a rookie in NBA history, behind only Ron Harper who recorded 10 during the 1986-87 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chalmers overall game during that Miami win was rather impressive as well. Along with his nine steals he recorded six points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out six assists while only turning the ball over two times.
There was incredible debate at that time whether or not the Miami Heat or the Chicago Bulls had gotten the better player in the draft.
The Bulls had gotten a lucky bounce in the lottery and were able to take Derrick Rose first overall ahead of the Heat (who had the worst record in the NBA the year prior, and therefore the greatest chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick) who “wound up with Beasley”.
After the November 5 win for the Heat over the Sixers, some in the media, however, began to whisper, “Did the Heat actually get the best point guard coming out of this draft after all?”
Now, granted there have been two full seasons that have taken place since then and now, but as much as many are going to call me absolutely insane, I still wonder about that.
Certainly, Derrick Rose seems a more gifted athlete. He’s got a better handle than Chalmers to a degree, and far more confidence.
Some of that is because of his talent, and some of it, in my view, is simply situational. Rose was thrust into the position he’s in, and thrived in it. He’s the go-to guy for the Bulls, and has reveled in the role.
Chalmers never had that opportunity, and probably wouldn’t have actually excelled as much as Rose has in it. He’s just not a “score-first” player. If he had been, he would have averaged far more even in college than he did.
However, I still believe the question is legitimate. Did the Miami Heat get the best “point guard” coming out of that draft?
Again, I know many will laugh at the idea.
However, while Rose may end up being a more prolific scorer than Chalmers will ever be, while Rose may end up with “better” stats, I believe there’s still a chance, especially given Chalmers opportunity now of playing on possibly the greatest team ever assembled, to show he can be the better “true point guard”.
And truth be told, Rose may not end up with better stats than Chalmers when their careers are over. How many players just like Rose have we seen come and go? Steve Francis? Starbury?
There’s a distinct possibility that Rose ends up on the trashheap of “talented” wannabes, for he’s certainly done nothing so far to be deserving of some “great” mantle in the NBA.
So, laugh if you will, but the conversation five to ten years from now might not be who was a better point guard, but how anyone could have thought Rose was even close.