I received a text yesterday afternoon. It was from a friend, who mentioned that someone had said to him that they no longer respected Derrick Rose.
I do not live under a rock, ergo I know that everyone who watches basketball and has a Twitter account and/or a voice box has had an opinion on Rose’s knee. I also know that the athletes whom are familiar with Rose’s injury in some way (Marcus Lattimore, Adrian Peterson, Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio to name a few) have had absolutely nothing bad to say about Derrick. And you know why?
They lived through it.
I’m going to do my best Roger Goodell impersonation in terms of making up rules on the fly here and instate a new one for Derrick Rose’s knee: If you’ve never had the injury, you can no longer comment on his heart, his toughness, his commitment to basketball, his mental state and whether or not you’d be back playing basketball by now, because much like men who comment on a woman’s pregnancy, you have no idea.
Have you noticed that not a single one of Derrick Rose’s teammates have had one bad thing to say about him?
Not so much as a hint of disrespect has been shelled out by a single player on that roster. No one has thrown him under the bus at any point. None of them. Not in a press conference, not in a radio interview, not in a tweet. Nothing. And you can bet that if any of them thought poorly of him, that one of them would have slipped up by now. Do you want to know why they respect him? Do you know why they have his back? Do you know why they take him at his word when so many others do not?
They know him. They respect him.
Teammates respect Derrick Rose because Derrick Rose is one thing if nothing else. Humble.
He was a Rookie of the Year. He’s an All-Star, a superstar. He’s a MVP. He has a monster sneaker deal. All of this, and he’s yet to turn 25 years young.
Given everything Derrick has amassed in his young NBA career, he remains humble. More humble than you and me, who possess not a fraction of his riches. He’s not once let it get to his head. He’s not once put himself above his team. I’m not even sure he’s once called the Bulls “his” team. He’s simply a part of it. And he’d be the first to say it.
Do you know how hard it is for a 24-year-old to not let any of this go to his head? To remain grounded? Much like his injury, you probably don’t, because you’ve never dealt with it. Many who have though, didn’t keep that even head on their shoulders. And if you’re unsure as to why, I’ll tell you: much like returning from a torn ACL, it’s not an easy thing to do.
There’s been more fuss about Derrick’s knee than Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn‘s relationship. I assume most of it is based on the fact that there hasn’t been any assumptions from the Bulls on when he’ll return. I assume another lump of it is ticked off Chicago fans dying to see their star in action. I assume another portion of it comes from basketball fans who forget these athletes are people, and that not all people are alike.
Fans of the sport witnessed Adrian Peterson rush for 2,000 yards last season. They also witnessed Iman Shumpert put back a ridiculous tomahawk slam in Game 2 versus Indiana. They see these instances and assume that because Derrick Rose isn’t out on the court putting up Derrick Rose numbers that some how he’s soft.
Derrick Rose grew up in South Side Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. He was pushed around and beaten up by three older brothers, also ballplayers. He gave his all in every game of his career to this point. games that awarded him the All-Star appearances, games that awarded him the Most Valuable Player, and unfortunately, after playing through injuries most of last year, a game that lead to his torn ACL in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. A game that, by the way, he shouldn’t have even been in at that point. So in case you’re uncertain, Derrick Rose is tougher than eating jello with chopsticks.
Perhaps what Derrick Rose really is… is smart.
As SBNation’s Tom Ziller pointed out, it was in Derrick’s rookie year that teammate Luol Deng suffered a leg injury in which team doctors cleared him to play. Reportedly, Deng didn’t feel comfortable and got a second opinion. As it turned out, he had a stress fracture. It took four months to heal.
In Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals (Rose’s MVP Season), Omer Asik broke his leg. He was cleared by team doctors to play in Game 4. Broke his leg!! He lasted about as long as your average NHL shift in that contest. Asik didn’t play again until the following December.
I admire this Bulls team as much as anyone. Joakim Noah is playing his heart out on one foot. Tom Thibodeau has done a great job getting everything out of his players, but it hasn’t come without a price.
Kirk Hinrich has a bruised left calf. Deng has an infection after a spinal tap. Prior to Wednesday night’s Game 2 blowout loss in Miami, Jimmy Butler had played in all 48 minutes in each of the previous three games. Nate Robinson was throwing up on the sideline, and also had to get 10 stitches.
Maybe there’s a reason they’re the most injured team in these playoffs. Maybe there’s a reason Derrick Rose isn’t ready to play. Thibs has built a rep of getting the most out of nothing, and as admirable as that is, it’s not if it’s coming at the cost of your players’ limbs.
Derrick Rose sees all of this. He adores his teammates, you can bet on it. He’s yearning for the day he can play professional basketball again, but the time isn’t now. Like when asked to make a split second decision, you have to trust your instincts, and I’m of the opinion that Rose is trusting his, as am I.
He’s seen past players like Grant Hill come back too soon from an injury, only to go back down.
In Hill’s case, it changed the whole trajectory of his career. Grant injured his ankle during his final days of his run with the Detroit Pistons. Hill, ever the professional, attempted to deflect criticism by playing through the pain during a first-round playoff series (ironically with Miami) only to injure his ankle worse that it already had been. He made the same mistake the following year, after signing a seven-year, $93 million deal with the Orlando Magic, in an attempt to prove the team hadn’t wasted millions on him. Grant Hill barely played basketball for the next decade.
Is that what everyone wants? Grant Hill-like appearances from Derrick Rose for the remainder of his career? That awful feeling we had when Hill attempted a comeback only to have to watch him not entirely succeed? Only to wonder what could have been?
Everyone is always very reactive in nature. It’s only after a car accident that we start wearing our seatbelt, after we lose enough money that we stop gambling. Why do we do this? I don’t know, but it makes less sense than Major League Baseball’s instant replay procedure.
Perhaps we should admire Derrick for being proactive. We should admire that he is not risking his and the franchise’s future by taking a chance at possibly permanently injuring himself. We should admire that he isn’t succumbing to the pressure that Hill did. That he’s taking it all to the chin. That he hasn’t backlashed once. So many times we see superstars return from injury too soon and when they do they hurt their team more than help them. And we complain about it. Perhaps Derrick doesn’t feel he can help his team right now.
Derrick Rose has never shown me anything to make me question his judgement, so why would I here? He says he’s not ready so he’s not ready, but when he is, I’ll be watching. And you can bet that you will be too.
Should D-Rose be suiting up or sitting out?
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