A Tribute to Derrick Rose

Wizards v/s Bulls 02/28/11

I’ve underestimated Derrick Rose for a long time.

When the Chicago Bulls were lucky enough to land the number one overall pick back in 2008, the majority of people seemed to favor the team taking Rose, who had just finished a phenomenal freshman year under Coach John Calipari at Memphis, with that pick.  I was in the minority that believed that Kansas State forward Michael Beasley should have been the Bulls pick.  Both players were young, with high scoring totals and high ceilings, but I felt that Beasley’s versatility would make him the better selection.

Rose won the Rookie of the Year award with 111 first place votes; the next highest vote getter got 5.  Beasley got 0.  Rose led his underdog team to within one game of defeating the defending champion Boston Celtics, tearing through a strong defense headlined by wily veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with a quiet confidence; Beasley did not start a playoff game that season.

Even after the amazing playoff performance Rose put on, I still did not have a lot of faith in him; he had shown some top-level athleticism, no doubt, but it seemed like he was a little bit selfish with the ball, especially for a rookie, and I didn’t think that his shooting numbers would be any greater than mediocre, at best, and that those two things would hold him back.

Rose made his first All-Star game in his second year, and in his third year, absolutely blew up, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the MVP Award while leading the Bulls to the league’s best record and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the great Michael Jordan had donned a Bulls jersey.

When Rose suffered his first major knee injury as a pro, crumpling to the ground in a play-off game against the Philadelphia 76ers, I felt horrible for him; I also felt that his life as a starting point guard, much less an elite point guard, was over, that the injury, which kept him out for over a year, would rob him of his trademark explosiveness and turn him into a run-of-the-mill backup, struggling to hit 40% of his shots while occasionally finding a moment of brilliance.

He may not have come back as strong as many had expected, but by averaging almost 16 points per game in his first month of playing competitive basketball in roughly 18 months, Rose proved his toughness and determination were beyond incredible.

After he sustained his second knee injury, tearing the meniscus on the knee opposite to the one that he had previously injured, I thought that his fate as a star that burned bright, but burned fast and faded out faster, was essentially cemented, that two major knee injuries for a guy that lived and died by his ability to be shifty, whose shot was still nothing special, would end Rose’s career with a whimper.

Of course, I was wrong again.  Rose returned at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, and he showed that he still had the ability to take over games, as evidenced by the 32 points that he dropped on the Washington Wizards midseason.

Shortly after that game, Rose injured his knee, again, putting myself and other Bulls fans everywhere back onto an emotional roller coaster.  This injury, I felt, would be the one to truly destroy the point guard’s confidence, to undermine all of the hard work that he had put in recovering from his previous two injuries and make him into a shell of his former self.

Of course, Rose came back two months later, putting in a couple of clutch playoff performances, including a game-winning three pointer at the buzzer to defeat LeBron James and the archrival Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, Derrick Rose is gone.  Traded, that is- to the New York Knicks, in a package deal that sends center Robin Lopez and two point guards to Chicago.  In my opinion, the trade looks like it could be a good one for the Bulls- the team was able to get Rose’s astronomical salary off the books while getting a starting center (Lopez), a potential stud at point guard (Jerian Grant), and a steady veteran guard (Jose Calderon) in return.

Of course, the one way that this trade could really blow up in Chicago’s face is if Rose, whose seemingly constant injury problems and perceived lack of effort have made him a divisive figure in the recent years, completely rejuvenates his career with the Knicks.

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think that it’s going to happen- I feel that Rose’s knees, which have taken tons and tons of abuse, just won’t hold up well enough for him to re-establish himself among the upper echelon of point guards in the league.  I also believe that Rose might be the third option, at best, on a Knicks team featuring Anthony and upcoming big man Kristaps Porzingis, and that won’t give him an opportunity to really showcase his talents.

But then again, I’ve underestimated Derrick Rose for a long time.

Regardless of what the ultimate result of this trade is, I’d like to give a big thanks to Derrick Rose for a phenomenal 8 years with the Bulls.  If Dwayne Wade put Chicago basketball back on the map, Rose made sure everybody knew it was back; he made the Bulls exciting, into real contenders.  He put in a lot of performances that were truly awe-inspiring, making seemingly impossible plays seem almost normal.  His dedication to Chicago was unbelievable; he became a role model for children throughout the city and the state, especially to fellow Chicagoans Anthony Davis and Jahlil Okafor, who followed his path from the inner city to the NBA.  His impact on the organization, and on the entire game of basketball, cannot be understated- though I hope my hometown team makes out better in this deal, I wish Rose the best in the Big Apple.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Derrick Rose and Abuse in Sports | Kevin J. Gaffney

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