Questions Rise About Derrick Rose


Keith Allison

Derrick Rose, once a hometown hero, has become one of the most lambasted athletes in Chicago sports history.

After what seemed like an eternity the Bulls season finally arrived. The hype was built up all summer for a potential championship contending team. Chicago sports are not exactly at its highest right now. The Cubs and Sox (while promising) are not very good right now. Who knows what the Bears are even doing anymore, and as for the Hawks, well they are still good. But this is Chicago, one of the largest sports markets in the world, and we have only one contending team? That all changed this past NBA offseason.

The offseason brought in big men Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic and finally got rid of the dead weight of Carlos Boozer. The Bulls were aggressive and moved up to acquire a young offensive threat in Doug McDermott. Oh, and how could anyone forget, Derrick Rose was set to make his return from his second major injury.

After tearing his ACL two seasons ago, taking a year off and frustrating Bulls fans, Rose made it 10 games into the 2013 season before tearing his meniscus. After his second major knee surgery, he sat out the entire season to recover from that torn meniscus. He then tried out and made it to the U.S. national squad to compete in the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

While he was playing with all of the superstar players and coaches this summer, he received nothing but praise from all of them. They were talking about how explosive he was. They were praising his jump shot. They said he was back to his MVP form. During the tournament he played okay. There was a lot of talent on team USA, so scoring is hard to come by. Not to mention it was his first serious action in over half a year so there was bound to be some rust.

All of these things was leading up to the big question: could Rose come back, after two major surgeries, and play at a high level in the NBA? Of course there are arguments for both sides. Two major surgeries in two years for a player whose game is built with sharp cuts, speed and a lot of contact. Rose beats you with his pure athleticism and healthy knees are essential to his game.

But at the same time I believe in him because he needs to represent for his city. When he the starters are announced at the United Center, Rose isn’t announced as “From Memphis,” he is announced as “From Chicago.” That has to mean something to him. He can’t feel like he is letting us down. After everything he has said about this city I want to believe that he will do whatever he can to make sure he brings us a championship. I want to believe that he will spend the countless hours in the gym rehabbing his knees. I want to believe that he will go work on his jump shot for hours on end so he can stay healthy, for us.

I used to feel that way. I wanted to believe that Rose would do whatever it will take to bring this city a championship. In a recent media session, the former MVP was asked how satisfied he was with his season thus far, he responded by saying “I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. I’m just learning and being smart.”

As a fan of not only Rose, but a fan of the Chicago Bulls, this was probably the worst thing he could have said in this situation. I did not know how to feel. I felt like I was robbed and he just stole that feeling of hope and happiness from me. I know that the Bulls have a great team going right now but in order to win a championship we need him. We need his explosiveness and his leadership on the floor every night.

I asked other fans of the Bulls on how they felt about his recent comments. Tony Isho, a NEIU junior studying CMT said “I felt betrayed in a way. Being a huge D-Rose fan, I got a FatHead of him in my room. I supported him during his knee injuries but now for him to say he’s thinking about himself and his future was very disheartening because of the amount of money he is making.”

Another student, Joe Sobczak, a senior CMT major said “That’s a ridiculous statement to make by Rose after his 14 year $260 million contract with Adidas. That’s a slap in the face to (Bulls owner) Jerry Reinsdorf and the entire Bulls organization after selecting the Chicago native with the first pick.”

While he is angering a lot of fans, people do need to step back and understand the process of recovering from injuries as dramatic as the ones he has suffered. Derrick has been struggling with hamstring tightness, which is a common setback to happen when first coming back from a knee injury. Anyone that has pulled their hamstring knows that it can linger for a long time.

His ankles on the other hand is quite scary. It is not just one, but both that are bothering him. Joakim Noah was willing to play half blind after being poked in the eye. Taj Gibson is out there playing with a bad ankle. Gasol is playing 35+ minutes a night with a strained calf. Why is it that they are willing to play through the pain but Rose is not?

This would not be a story at all if Rose would have said something like “I am just being cautious with myself because my focus is on the games in May and not the games in November.” Reporters would have nodded their heads, thrown a sentence in about him looking for a championship and moved on. Now he has the city that once loved him turning on him. People question not only his physical toughness but his mental toughness as well.

I do not know what to think anymore. One part of me is thinks that his brother told him to say that. Rose has never communicated well with the media. It is not what he does. He was the silent assassin on the court. He let his game do the talking for him.

The other part of me is losing hope in him. After this long, if he does not know how to give a basic “I want to win now” answer, then what is he doing? Who is really in charge of his life? Does he want to win or does he want a lot of money? All these questions people are starting to ask and nobody, not even Rose himself, has an answer.

This has been the biggest story of the year and has only gotten bigger. He could have defused the situation if he could just give the right answers. Now every move he makes and after every setback, he will have people questioning him. The only way that he can silence the critics is to just play and win. Even though I am tempted to give up on the hometown hero, I am always going to hang on to that little bit of hope that he will figure it out and be our MVP once again.