CLEVELAND - The Chicago Bulls took the court on Tuesday night and even with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sharing the floor, Derrick Rose put together arguably the most impressive performance of the night.
If it were 2011, nothing about this would have seemed strange. After all, that was the same year Rose won MVP while leading the Bulls to the best record in the Eastern Conference -- ahead of James' and Wade's Miami Heat.
What a difference six years can make.
Rather than playing the roles of rivals, Rose is now teammates with James and Wade -- all three members of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who just so happened to be taking on his former team in preseason in action on Tuesday night.
But perhaps what now stands out more starkly than Rose's new team and teammates is the role he now finds himself in, playing on a one-year minimum contract with the Cavs after a litany of injuries accelerated the aging of his fast-paced game and led to a precipitous drop in his star status.
"I'm 28," Rose said at Cavs media day last month. "People act like I'm 38 years old."
But while the 3-time All-Star has even acknowledged to a degree that his game is now different, on Tuesday, he showed flashes of his former MVP self. Cleveland lost the contest 108-94, but the final outcome of the contest was largely irrelevant. Rather, what stood out most were the highlights provided by Rose, particularly as he provided a boost to the Cavs' second-team.
On one play in the second quarter, Rose crossed up Bulls guard Justin Holiday to his right, before zipping past 7-footer Lauri Markkanen for a scooping layup to his left. That play in particular was reminiscent of Rose's prime, when he consistently torched opposing defenses with his combination of speed and touch.
The play drew a demonstrative reaction from the Cavs bench, including James, who at times took on the responsibility of attempting to cover Rose in their two career playoff matchups.
Later in the quarter, Rose demonstrated another way he's able to affect a game, grabbing a defensive rebound and racing down court before lobbing a no-look alley-oop pass to reserve forward Jeff Green.
Rose finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. It marked his second straight impressive performance in a Cleveland uniform after he scored 15 points in 14 minutes against the Indiana Pacers last week.
Of course, it's important to remember it's still just the preseason and there's no guarantee Rose will even remain the Cavs' starting point guard when Isaiah Thomas returns from injury later this season.
But for at least one night, he showed flashes of his former self -- and at this point, it's hard not to be intrigued by what that might mean for his future as well.
© 2017 WKYC-TV