Derrick Rose was chosen as the youngest Most Valuable Player in National Basketball Association history after leading the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the regular season while averaging 25 points per game.
Rose, at 22 years, 7 months, is five months younger than Hall of Famer Wes Unseld was when he won the honor in 1969 with the Baltimore Bullets.
Rose is the first Bulls player to win the award since Michael Jordan won for the fifth time in 1997-98.
“I want to thank my teammates and the coaching staff,” a tearful Rose said at a televised news conference. “You all push me every single day making sure that I play hard and play with passion.”
He saved his last thank you for his mother, Brenda, “the reason why I play the way that I play.”
LeBron James won the MVP award the past two seasons, playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers before signing with the Miami Heat. James was third in the voting this year, behind Rose and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.
Rose received 1,182 points and 113 first-place votes from the panel of sports writers and broadcasters combined with fan balloting, according to an NBA statement.
Howard had three first-place votes and 643 points. James had four first-place votes and 522 points, with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers getting the remaining first-place ballot and 428 points. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was fifth with 190 points.
Rose scored 24 points last night and left the court limping after hurting his left ankle on the closing play as the Bulls began their second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks with a 103-95 home defeat. The Hawks, who ended a 15-game winless run in the second round of the playoffs, return to the United Center in Chicago tomorrow for Game 2 in the best-of-seven series.
Rose’s award comes two days after Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was selected Coach of the Year after guiding Chicago to a 62-20 record and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Thibodeau, 53, became the seventh first-year coach to win the Red Auerbach Trophy and the fourth Bulls coach to claim the award. The most recent previous winner was Phil Jackson in 1996, when the Bulls won the NBA Finals for the fourth time in six years. The other Chicago winners were Johnny Kerr in 1967 and Dick Motta four years later.
Rose, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft and the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2008-09, is the first player since Dave Cowens in 1973 to become MVP after receiving no votes the previous year, the Chicago Tribune said.
He’s also the seventh MVP to average at least 25 points, 7.5 assists and four rebounds in a season, after Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Jordan, Dwyane Wade and James. Rose averaged 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.