Is the Former Hometown Hero Ready to Walk Away?

Over the last few days it has become clear that Derrick Rose may retire from the NBA. He has had ankles issues this year following years of knee problems which included three torn meniscus injuries and a torn ACL.

As a Chicago fan, this is particularly discomforting. Chicago sports fans, like many other city’s fans, become extremely attached to their star players. Perceptions of stars seems to change every day in Chicago. When the Chicago Bears acquired Jay Cutler in 2009, it seemed that he could lead the Bears to a Super Bowl behind a dominant Chicago defense. Today, Jay Cutler plays for the Dolphins, and in 7 years, he delivered one playoff victory and two winning seasons. He is one of the most hated athletes maybe to ever play in Chicago and his perceived disinterest in playing is most likely making Dolphins fans despise him as well.

In Rose’s case, he was the youngest MVP in league history and he seemed to be on the path of Bulls-great Michael Jordan. Since Jordan’s last game in a Chicago uniform, the Bulls had endured years of mediocrity. Basketball fans all over America were excited to watch what Derrick Rose could offer to the game. In 2016 we witnessed hundreds of thousands coming out to celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series. This was the atmosphere at Bulls games during the 2011 season. The optimism for the future was high and even losing out on the LeBron James decision did not kill excitement around the team. The MVP season by Rose alongside Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau had recreated the sense of basketball hope in Chicago.

However, the first year ended up being the best year, as following his MVP campaign, Rose dealt with multiple injuries throughout the year before eventually succumbing to the ACL tear in the waning minutes of game 1 of the playoffs.

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Derrick Rose ACL tear April 28, 2012 (Photo Credit: ESPN)

Since then, opinions of Rose have become more and more negative. During his first year out due to injury, the Bulls endured as a team and made the playoffs behind strong seasons from other Bulls starters and Nate Robinson off the bench. Towards the end of that season, there were rumors that Rose may be able to return for the playoffs, but no action was taken. The first wave of icy feelings toward Rose began to arise at this time. After 10 months, Rose still did not seem close to returning even though he has already been cleared for 5v5 scrimmage. Following his meniscus tear shortly into the next season, the frustration of Bulls fans was apparent. He yet again, decided against coming back for the playoffs.

The season finally came where Rose was healthy enough to play. However, he still was unable to complete the full season as torehis meniscus again. The perception around Rose had completely changed by this time. While there was hope that the old Rose would return, the emergence of Jimmy Butler made it easier for the Bulls to be a top team without Rose at the MVP level he would never be back at. The next two years saw more of the same from Rose. He had morphed into a liability as he was unable to shoot the three and he no longer had the consistent athleticism and finesse that made him a top point guard. He was later traded to the New York Knicks and then signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason.

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Derrick Rose at Simeon Photo Credit: SI

As the Bulls have shifted towards a full rebuild following the Jimmy Butler trade, the depressing decline of Rose hangs like a clout over the franchise. While many teams lose star players due to mishandling of minutes and other personnel issues, the Bulls were rather unlucky with Rose.

What made Rose even more of a fit was his origins. Rose was born and raised in the Englewood neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago. His father was never involved in his life, so his mother and three older brothers raised him. From the moment the Bulls won the draft lottery, it was unmistakably clear that they would be selecting the Chicago-raised point guard out of Memphis.


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Photo Credit: SBNation

Other than injuries, so much went wrong for Derrick Rose. His personality was almost opposite of Michael Jordan’s. Rose compared much more in personality to Tim Duncan and the other “quiet stars”. In an age when the ever emotional LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were dominating the league, Rose’s humble and less intense approach to the game did not convey well with the Chicago fans.

Following his game winner over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs, Rose had a very bland look on his face. The look also became a prominent internet meme.

Derrick Rose seems to be running on his last legs. He may end up being the first NBA MVP who will not make it into the Hall of Fame. It is very sad to see how this has played out. The Bulls front office never gave Rose support as he did not play with any other stars till Jimmy Butler broke out. By then it was too late. What could have been a long, illustrious career, full of all-star appearances and breath-taking plays, has washed out and resulted in nothing but a slew of injuries and regret.


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