Tuesday night. I had my headphones in on the loudest setting attempting to accomplish an incredible feat— avoid any sports media for an entire week. My team and I had failed each other this past Sunday, and for an avid participant in the religion of Sports, I was going to be in a sour mood until next kickoff. I wasn’t in the damn mood.
But my attention gravitated away from my work tonight, and it wasn’t just because I craved an alternative outlet. Something genuinely drew me. I relapsed from my media hiatus after a mere two days, typed ‘e’ into my browser’s search bar, and ESPN’s website was the immediate suggestion. Maybe I do spend too much time there. Nah.
I braced for some NFL news, something preemptive about why my team is preparing for eminent trouble after Week 3, or why the Patriots are going 16-0, or why the Seahawks are still prevalent Super Bowl favorites with a losing record— just the textbook click-bait material. But today was a different day; it was day football season could wait, at least for the next 24-48 hours.
Derrick Rose was injured.
And the broken record was spinning slightly out of control for the 26-year old Chicago Bull. It wasn’t exactly the severity of the injury that was particularly noteworthy, because it wasn’t; it was a left orbital fracture that came as a result of an inadvertent, flying elbow to the face. The reality is it’s a fluke basketball injury that will predictably only keep him out 2 weeks. An injury that could’ve happened to anyone, but didn’t. It happened to the ‘Glass-man’ himself.
Still came back before Derrick Rose.
As a basketball player, the chatter must be discouraging. As a human being, demoralizing. If I’ve learned anything from the scarce interview opportunities with Rose, it’s that he’s not exactly a man of many words; due to this, it makes the prospect of peering into the true, inner thoughts of Derrick’s mind, or what’s left of it, seem unfeasible. What could he possibly be thinking? After all, it’s been a grand sum of 1612 days since Derrick Rose was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the NBA (and was the youngest player in NBA/ABA history to do so at 22 years of age); a lifetime achievement award that for Derrick lasted all but 15 minutes. Whether it’s the fact that he’s on the outside looking in of most Top Ten Point Guard rankings, the fact that the Bulls have been an afterthought since Bron’s first title, or that people have actually been boycotting his trademark kicks out of fear of ACL rips, I find it absolutely absurd that spectators and journalists have genuinely neglected to remember how talented this athlete was, and should still very well be. In many facets, Derrick himself isn’t exempt from this classification of apprehensive folk. One has to accept that Dr. Brian Cole, the Chicago Bulls’ team physician/surgeon performed the most optimal potential procedure probably in the world on his anterior cruciate ligament, and his meniscus, and the other one after that. Knowing this, the fact that D-Rose hasn’t got back to his old ways presents a legitimate question.
Where are you, Mr. Rose?
Let me be clear; this article isn’t trying to hone in on statistics, player propensities, or even basketball-influenced analytical investigation. I’m temporarily relinquishing my allegiance to sports journalism and temporarily relinquishing Derrick Rose’s allegiance to the sport of basketball. This piece serves as a plea to Derrick; human being to human being. The National Basketball Association was a different landscape with Derrick at his young apex, and that atmosphere can undoubtedly return. Sports are decidedly more entertaining with parity amongst teams, and the NBA is no exception.
Currently the Western Conference has levels of intrigue that extend beyond unpredictability to create subplots in NBA season. Every team in the West has a sincere shot at the crown: Russ/KD vs the newly improved gods that are the Spurs vs the defending world champion Warriors vs the Brow and co vs Lob City vs Memphis vs H-town vs Kobe’s last chapter. Contrastingly, the East is LeBron Raymond James vs Everybody: a battle Bron has won definitively for 5 straight years and is entering a season as the clear-cut favorite.
It would perhaps be more practical to request John Wall or Paul George to recover from their respective injuries, for Miami to show LeBron what he left behind, or for Atlanta to build on a historically great franchise year. Again, all sports logic and historical context is thrown out the window here. I don’t want to argue feasibility or reasonability; I’d rather render a reality: the NBA needs you, Derrick Rose; the East needs you. This is precisely what 30 for 30 documentaries are made of. You have a new head coach in Fred Hoiberg, and for that reason alone you have a new beginning.
This is your Resurrection, your time to shed your thorns. Show us what you’re made of.