“I’m not looking for extra attention, I just want to be just like you, Blend in with the rest of the room…” – “Beautiful,” Relapse (2009)
As off base as it may read, success can ruin a person’s life.
Prior to sitting down with Derrick Rose’s feature in the new issue of GQ, two undeniable truths were already written on the wall. The first being, he’s a rather decent basketball player. And second, and this isn’t an attempt at veiled disrespect either, Rose has always appeared socially awkward.
The money is growing quicker than grass and shows no signs of slowing with two newly minted monster contracts under his belt. His shoe line is popular. Chicago looks to be on its way to locking up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive spring. Yet, and here’s the kicker, his quote in regards to his new celebrity was more than eye opening. “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t take anything for granted. But it seems like the better I play, the more attention I get. And I can’t get away from it,” said Rose. “You play great, you get attention. But I hate attention. It is weird. I’m in a bind. The more you win, the more they come.”
Derrick Rose despises fame. He hates the idea of it. He hates the concept of it. He even hates the fact that his calling in life is the direct opposite of matching his social desires. His “turn the other cheek” ideology to fame proves eerily reminiscent of another controversial Midwest superstar who has grappled with the idea of celebrity for well over a decade: Eminem.
Marshall has become a champion to millions worldwide placing the most intimate and damming aspects of his life on front street. Hailie, his daughter, who has lived her life as byproduct of her father’s art, will be old enough to obtain her learner’s permit soon. Meanwhile, Kim, well, her name has become synonymous with everything from drug usage to domestic abuse. Make no mistake, however, rap saved Em’s life in the manner basketball took D-Rose out of the infamous Englewood neighborhood in Southside Chicago.
Prisoners of their own fame – which they both are – almost always find a way to experience mental breakdowns stemming from the impossible task of balancing personal insecurities with public perception. For Rose, hopefully, it doesn’t take becoming addicted to drugs after losing his best friend to gun violence in the manner life played out for Marshall. As the GQ article would go on to reveal, from the moment Derrick has been able to dribble a basketball, his life has been sheltered, drawn out and, to an extent, dictated for him. In that manner, he and Mathers stand as polar opposites.
“I don’t wanna quit, but shit, I feel like this is it, For me to have this much appeal I feel like this is sick, This is not a game, this fame, in real life this is sick…” – “Say Goodbye To Hollywood,” The Eminem Show (2003)
Will Leitch’s trip inside the life, mind and business of Rose proved, at least at times it seemed, that becoming basketball’s youngest MVP in history was the worst thing to happen to Chicago’s current most recognizable athlete. For an NBA built around the personalities of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and more, Rose’s almost staunch resistance to remain introverted in a game packed with extroverts is the stuff of legend. Take last year’s All Star Game, for instance. How uncomfortable did it appear when Derrick participated in the starting five-adopted powder toss alongside Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Amar’e Stoudemire and James? Or even more recent, how perturbed he looked while James and Howard danced during introductions at this year’s extravaganza in Orlando.
There is no need to justify his fame. This partly because Rose, himself, and Em hate doing so. It’s not difficult to surmise Derrick would give nearly anything in the world to live in anonymity as long as his mother and brothers were financially taken care of. Em would probably fade to black, too, as long as Hailie was guaranteed a life with the luxuries and securities he was never afforded.
Carrying the weight of a city whose six championships during the ’90s are still the crowning achievement sports-wise is a burden also appearing to weigh heavily on his mind, too. “Chicago isn’t used to stardom. Back when Michael was here, everyone was used to actors and singers and people being at the games,” Rose said. “But there’s been a drought since then, and even celebrities, they’ll stop here to film a movie and then pop right back out. They don’t know how to act toward celebrity. So I always have someone with me. I can have a hat on, glasses on, whatever. People still notice me. If I go outside without a hat on, I feel like I’m naked. This life doesn’t fit my personality.”
So, yeah, success, from his own admission, is taking its toll. Every layup forcing Rose’s body to bend in ways most mere mortals fail the fathom is basically another avenue for the public to weasel their way in Derrick’s once very private life. Will it prohibit Chicago’s chances of ever returning to the NBA Finals and winning? Maybe not, but for a game requiring a committed mental and physical approach, witnessing how Derrick’s career progresses far beyond this season presents a fascinating case study. Still very early in what looks to be an all time great résumé, it’s undeniable Rose loves the game. He just doesn’t love what the game brings; a double edged sword impossible to avoid leaving one’s body ravaged in scars.
The same way Eminem rarely embarks on a tour or shoves himself in front of a camera is mimicked in the manner in which Rose handles his public appearances outside of the United Center. We saw that during the lockout when he basically went into hiding while other stars salivated at the attempt to become impromptu Harlem Globetrotters taking their theatrics to gymnasiums across the country.
It’s not wrong. It’s not right. It’s just Marshall. It’s just Derrick.