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updated: 3/13/2012 10:58 AM

Rose takes 'underdog' Lin to school

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  • Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) drives on New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin during the second half of a game Monday in Chicago. The Bulls won 104-99 with Rose scoring 32 points.

    Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) drives on New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin during the second half of a game Monday in Chicago. The Bulls won 104-99 with Rose scoring 32 points.
    Associated Press


This kind of result can happen only in sports, and most often it seems in basketball.

One young player grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford, and went on to earn a degree in economics from Harvard.

Somehow he was the underdog.

Another young player grew up in Chicago, in the hardscrabble Englewood neighborhood, and dropped out of college at Memphis after one year.

Somehow he was the favorite.

Maybe by now you've guessed that this is a matchup between Ivy League-educated Jeremy Lin of the Knicks and Public League-educated Derrick Rose of the Bulls.

Each is a 23-year-old point guard, and they faced off on the United Center court Monday night during the Bulls' 104-99 victory.

Never mind that the Bulls beat the Knicks by beating them on the boards. The Rose-Lin confrontation was a sexier storyline.

Rose won out, of course. Hyped for the challenge, maybe too hyped at first, he scored 32 points on 29 shots to Lin's 15 points on 11 shots.

"That's really the beauty of Derrick," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We needed him to score more tonight and needed him to play more minutes."

So Rose did both.

Lin, the learn-on-the-run Knick of Taiwanese descent, ran into foul trouble and played 33 minutes to Rose's 43.

The closest such matchup of this sort that I can remember was No. 16-seed Princeton challenging No. 1-seed Georgetown in the first round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament.

If the Ivy eggheads won it would have been perhaps the biggest upset in basketball history. John Thompson's tough guys from D.C. won 50-49 to retain their dignity.

Monday night, again it was the ivy walls against the blacktop, Wall Street against Main Street, the privileged against the pedestrian.

With a twist, that is. In this case Lin is the underprivileged basketball upstart trying to make it in the NBA and Rose is the blue-blood league MVP already guaranteed $400 million in salary and endorsements.

Apparently not everybody loves the underdog because Rose's hometown crowd booed Lin during pregame introductions and at times during the game.

Linsanity has waned a little nationally, and the Knicks have lost six straight games. But nearly 20 journalists from Asian news outlets covered the game and more fans of Asian descent than usual were in the United Center.

"I believe we will Lin," read a sign carried by a youngster wearing a Knicks jersey top. Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat front row baseline, not 10 feet from the end of the Knicks' bench.

The Rose-Lin duel didn't turn out to be as compelling as the anticipation was. The Bulls' point guard doused the remnants of Linsanity remaining in Chicago.

"He's a good player, playing well for his team," said Rose, who did appear to be extra motivated for the game despite adding, "No matter who I'm playing against, I'm trying to win the matchup."

Though the same age, Lin is more the basketball kindergartner and Rose the basketball scholar. So while Lin is Harvard educated, this was Rose's opportunity to take him to school.

"That's how Derrick plays every night," Thibodeau insisted. "Derrick doesn't look at it as a game of Derrick Rose vs. Jeremy Lin. The bottom line with Derrick is always winning."

The bottom line on this night was the poor ol' underdog from Harvard couldn't upset the wealthy favorite from Englewood.

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