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Great expectations

Chicago's Rose right to expect the best from himself
07/25/2013 2:58 PM ET
By Doug Williams

Is the fact that Derrick Rose has self-confidence really a story?

How many times does this need to happen? A player is asked in an interview who is the best, and the player responds that they, themselves, are indeed the best. Shocking!

Chicago fans should be happy, though, because Rose finally seems confident enough to dominate. When healthy, I believe he is in the top five in the league. He -- and everyone else -- must know that LeBron James is unquestionably the best. But to hear that Rose thinks he is the best in the NBA shouldn't shock or appall anybody. All he's doing is setting the bar high for himself -- which has worked in the past for some.

We were shocked when Eli Manning, when asked if he was in the same class of quarterbacks as a Tom Brady, said yes. And we were even more surprised when Joe Flacco said he thought he was the best.

What else do you want these guys to say? Remember something about athletes: they were always the best growing up. They were the star in middle school, high school, college, the minor leagues, etc. It's ingrained in their heads from a young age that they are special and that they will be paid handsomely for their skills.

And now, for some reason, we expect them to sit there and name athletes that are better than them? Would we somehow like that better? I'm a Giants fan, and I loved hearing that Eli considered himself in Brady's class. By the way, Eli said that in August 2011. Seven months later he beat Brady in the Super Bowl. Flacco made his comments on April 3, 2012. Ten months later, he had a ring as well.

It just goes to show that cocky is different than confident when you're talking about the best athletes in the world. Joe Flacco and Eli Manning are unquestionably in the top 10 QBs in the NFL, so why is it so blasphemous when they make it clear in an interview that they want to be the very best? They're clearly not far off. And the same goes for Derrick Rose. When healthy, he is the most athletic point guard on both sides of the ball in the NBA.

Admitting defeat is something athletes can do after retirement. THEN they can admire the players they had trouble defending or the guys who guarded them the best. THEN they can tell the media who they would have loved to play with and who they admired. But in the heat of their careers and at the very top of their game, don't expect athletes to act like they're just another television analyst giving their opinion. As great as it is to see humility and sportsmanship in sports, competition doesn't have to be polite. In fact, the best competition in sports is quite the opposite.

At the end of the day, players can't convince us that they're the best by just saying it. The fun part is watching them go out and prove it. As I've said before about LeBron James, it's hard to call him cocky for simply knowing he's the best. The same goes for any highly successful professional athlete. Are they cocky? No, they just have enough of a skillset to really believe it's true. And they're motivated by the idea that it's up to THEM, and only them, to meet their own expectations. 

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