Archive for May, 2013

Derrick Rose: A Tale of the Fraud MVP

17 May

Although I briefly touched on Derrick Rose’s decision not to play this season in an earlier entry on the NBA playoff race (dated March 14), I believe his actions (or lack their of) deserve an entry all of their own.

If there is one thing more cherished in sports than winning, it is an athlete’s ability to come back after being knocked down. Be it Muhammad Ali after his loss to Joe Frazier, Kobe Bryant winning two straight rings in the post-Shaq era, or even this year’s Baltimore Ravens squad who reached new heights after losing in dramatic fashion in last year’s AFC title game. In fact, because utter dominance is so often deemed boring or at the very least monotonous  by the sports crazed media and public, (just ask Joe Louis or Floyd Mayweather), it is probably fair to say that most people enjoy a solid comeback much more than perpetual victory. The ups and downs of the former probably resonates more with people due to the ups and down in their own lives and in a sense, it makes an athlete more relatable, and therefore, more authentic. And because authenticity is cherished much more than the phony even in this crazy materialistic world we all live, an athlete’s triumphs after being knocked down automatically become something personal to all of us.

It is under this symbiotic relationship that most athletes make the biggest headway in terms of making their name and cementing their legacy. It is also why Derrick Rose has done himself and the fans who love him the greatest disservice an athlete could ever perpetrate.

While I do not dispute that Derrick Rose tore his ACL and that ACL tears are very serious injuries, let me first state that they are no longer the death knell they once were. Athletes today are coming back from a myriad of serious injuries and in the ACL department one only has to look at the shining examples of Tom Brady, Ricky Rubio, Iman Shumpert and of course, Adrian Peterson, to see that today’s athlete can more than bounce back from ACL tears. Although, I will concede that these athletes were not back to top form right away, after a few months they were however able to go from 75 to 100% of their former selves. And therein lies the problem with Derrick Rose.

I doubt there is a person on this planet that would have thought Derrick Rose would be at 100% after he was medically cleared to start playing. However, following the examples of other prominent athletes (including the aforementioned) he could have at least given it his best and taken the shot. Again, no one is saying come back before all doubts are extinguished, to do so would be ludicrous given the gamble with a franchise player, but once you are medically cleared how do you not at least give it a go? How can you even call yourself a star?  

If the Bulls were out of the playoffs and stuck somewhere in the Eastern Conference basement maybe Rose could escape some scrutiny because it could be said that his late return would not have had any impact on the Bulls’ season. But Rose’s team fought hard and fought hard for him all season with the hope that he would return. As such the team was in the thick of the playoff hunt all year and ended the season as the Eastern 5th seed. However, when the team could have used him late in the regular season to improve their standings, Rose was on the bench and his useless manager brother was thumping his chest in the media proclaiming that Rose was right to sit until management got more pieces around Rose (for the record, the Bulls have 3 All-Star calibre players in Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, surrounding Rose). Rose continued to sit.

Incredibly, when the playoffs rolled around the script was the same only now the situation was exacerbated. The Bulls courageously upset the Nets, and made it to the second round despite their best players dropping like flies. They had fought all season to survive, but now the effects of having to carry another man’s load (the same man who is supposed to help to carry them), was too much and they were defeated by Miami in 5 games. Nate Robinson had played his brains out, Deng tried to climb out of his hospital bed to play and Joakim Noah had managed to play on one foot, and where was Rose?? Sitting on the bench in a suit with his thumb up his ass. Some MVP. Even if I believe Derrick Rose and that he was not 100% are you telling me this valiant yet-overmatched Bulls squad could not even have used 70% of Derrick Rose against Miami? Please. When your team is out there killing themselves, you as a leader have a duty to be out there and fight the fight with them. If Derrick Rose was actually worried about his knee despite being medically cleared months ago, someone should tell him to take up knitting.

Sadly, after witnessing the way his brother reacted at the trade deadline when Chicago did not make a move, it is clear what happened. Derrick Rose essentially took his ball and went home. And if this was not bad enough, Rose sunk even further by toying with people about the possibility that he might return at some point this season. Bullshit. The moment the Bulls did not make a move Rose was out.  He knew it, his close circle of friends knew it and only those people who still had misplaced faith in today’s me-first superstar were the ones that did not know it.

Truly, the worst part about this Derrick Rose fiasco is how he led people on for months, long after him and his people knew he was not coming back. A clean break would have allowed the Bulls and their fans a chance to regroup, come to grips with reality and play the hand they were dealt, but Rose was too big of a coward to let that happen. By keeping the hope alive that he was coming back, Rose found a genius way to keep your name in the papers without playing one minute of basketball for an entire season. The problem is that it was an evil genius move. Doing so let his team down and in the long-run will probably backfire in his face.

The sports world has a long memory when it comes to dubious acts, and the foil of him on the bench in a suit will his teammates risk their careers by playing with injuries will be etched in the mind of fans for a long time to come.  It certainly will in my mind.

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