Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Curious Case of Derrick Rose

There are more than a few fans side-eyeing Rose these days

The cache that Derrick Rose has been building up throughout his career is being spent more and more completely with every passing basket made by the Bulls’ opposition.  Rose was injured nearly a year ago today in last year’s playoff series against the 76ers.  Since he was drafted number one by his hometown team, Rose has enjoyed as much local and (because of the size and influence of Chicago) national backing as any modern athlete who hasn’t won a title.

This manipulative emotional Adidas advertising spot and the poignant Rose press conference announcing the launch of his shoe D Rose 3 are indicative of the type of full-fledged support that Rose enjoyed during his arduous process of getting back on the court post injury.  During his journey to recovery, the Bulls gutted out a 5th seed while being 2nd to last in points scored per game (obviously missing their superstar point guard), and battling through a litany of other injuries to other key players.
Every week after the All-Star game brought better and better news about Rose.  First, he was making cuts.  Then Rose was participating in drills on the court; then he was playing well in practice.  All that was left was for him to come back onto the court and join his team.  Moreover, Iman Shumpert of the Knicks who also suffered a torn ACL during the first round of the playoffs was back in January.  The pressure began to mount.

Shumpert has been back since January, but has yet to return to his rookie form

Fast forward to February when Rose’s brother and manager, Reggie, insinuated that Derrick wasn’t back playing because of the Bulls’ inactivity in the free agent market. Add to that the fact that Derrick’s agent (former Bulls’ player and executive BJ Armstrong) has a bit of a contentious relationship with the organization, and suddenly the unshakable support had come undone.  In game 2, Joakim Noah played on one foot through his own injury, to lead the Bulls to a win that evened the series and gave homecourt advantage to Chicago.

Rose has been a great player for the Bulls and even with him at full strength the odds that they would beat the Heat and represent the East in the NBA Finals are long.  Still, as long as he sits in those well-tailored suits and not in his snug jersey, there will be contention.  In his defense, if this dilemma to play has shown the star (and players at large) is that there is no loyalty in sports; not even from the fans. 

Amongst my generation that grew up with free agency as common place, the love for the name on the front of the jersey will always supersede the love for the name that adorns the back.  When players can leave at the drop of a hat (or more likely, production) it is a defense mechanism to protect our hearts and distance ourselves from players.  Let’s just hope that this hasn’t jaded us too badly, and gives Rose the time he feels he needs to recover.

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