On the eve of Chicago Bulls training camp, Derrick Rose famously and rhetorically asked why he couldn't be the NBA's most valuable player.
Rose, the Bulls' third-year superstar guard, got his answer Monday: He can.
At 22 years, 7 months, Rose, according to sources, will become the youngest most valuable player in NBA history, supplanting 1969 winner and Hall of Famer Wes Unseld by roughly five months.
And Rose did so by taking a huge jump, becoming the first MVP winner since Dave Cowens in 1973 to win the award without receiving one vote the previous year.
That's why so many reacted with surprise and skepticism when Rose made his pre-training camp claim. Sure, people expected big things from Rose, who had been an All-Star reserve in his second season.
But Rose took a huge jump both statistically and with intangibles, becoming one of the league's premier closers and carrying the Bulls through major injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
With averages of 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds, Rose became the seventh player in NBA history to post averages of at least 25 points, 7.5 assists and four rebounds in a single season. He joined heavyweights Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Rose also became the fifth player -- and first point guard -- to post 2,000 points, 600 assists and 300 rebounds in the same season, again joining elite company in Robertson, Jordan, James and John Havlicek.
Rose also joined Jordan as the only Bulls to finish in the top-10 in scoring and assists in the same season, which Jordan achieved in 1988-89.
"The talent part is obvious," coach Tom Thibodeau said recently of Rose. "Everyone can see that. But unless you're around him every day, you don't see his drive and humility and the way he is with his teammates, the example he sets. He's never satisfied. He always wants to do better. He always puts the team first. And he'll always do what you ask him to do."
Bulls' Derrick Rose named NBA MVP
Derrick Rose celebrates a play. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)