Derrick Rose is having it hard these days. Just as NBA training camps are getting underway, and Chicago Bulls’ fans were beginning to feel warm and fuzzy about their team, Rose, arguably the team’s most recognizable, star opened up about the new season. His words were put in their proper context the moment he was injured during the Bulls’ first team practice of the season.
Derrick Rose’s words also placed a big target on his back. One that can vanish if he can produce on the basketball court. He may not win another NBA Most Valuable Player Award, as he did in the 2010-11 season, but he can return to being an All-Star.
Rose called himself a “great player” during the Chicago Bulls’ media day session. Based on his accomplishments, winning the Rookie of the Year and league MVP awards, he started off great. Injuries have bottled up that greatness for the past three years. Fans have seen glimpses of Derrick Rose returning to form. His talent is undeniable at times. That is why several people have gravitated to him since he was drafted out of the University of Memphis in 2008.
He is a homegrown talent who allowed his play to take on the personality of an entire city. Going into camp, his critics were once again on his side. Then Derrick Rose spoke.
During an interview with NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, Derrick Rose spoke of the targets that he, and star Jimmy Butler have on their backs. Rose was quick dispell rumors of a beef between them. He alluded to the both of them being “black, African-Americans” as one of the reasons for the stir.
What Rose said about his case was not too upsetting.
“I can’t let one incident that’s not true affect the way that I live, and I’m not going to let it. I love my life actually, so I can’t complain about anything. I’ve just got to take this, use it as fuel and the season is around the corner.”
The moment of discomfort began with his unprovoked spill on his free agent status, which does not take place for another two years.
It is absurd for Derrick Rose to speak out on free agency when he is owed a whopping $41 million over the next two seasons. For the curious, that is just his basketball contract. Derrick Rose also has a lucrative shoe deal with Adidas and he is a stockholder of the famous Chicago-based pizzeria Giordano’s. When he said that he is focused on making sure that his son and the rest of his family are financially secure, he meant it.
Whoever is advising Derrick Rose needs to tell him to speak only about winning basketball games. Talking about free agency with two years left on a guaranteed contract is not a way to get back into the good graces of loyal Chicago Bulls’ fans. His advisor needs to remind him that he has played in only 100 games in three years. Rose has a lot of work to do on the court before he gets paid again.
It is perfectly fine for Derrick Rose to worry about free agency. Maximizing his earning potential is directly tied to his health and how well he plays on the court.
Imagine the snickers when the news broke that Rose suffered a left orbital fracture, courtesy of USA Today, after catching an accidental elbow from a teammate. His latest injury brought to light the chief concern that haunts him: his health. While he did not make light of this during his interview, the injuries he endured had to be on his mind. It would not come as a surprise if it stays on his mind. Had he mentioned it, he would have been ridiculed for it. That is the reason why Derrick Rose must play his heart out this season and the next. It is the only way he can silence his critics.
Derrick Rose became the NBA’s most valuable player a few years ago due to his fearless play.
When he was met by a defender, Rose would challenge them. It did not matter who his opposition was, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Rose got the better of them more times than not. He earned his reputation elevating his game. Now he is three serious knee injuries removed from the player who won the association’s MVP.
Since the last time he was seen on a basketball court, his explosiveness only comes in spurts and he has a shaky jump shot.
This offseason was the first time Rose did not have to rehab from a nagging injury in three years. That should make for a better product. His shot selection has to improve, as does his penchant for holding the ball a little too long, but these are mental adjustments.
Simply recognizing that a teammate has a better chance to make a play can pay off huge for him. It would increase his assist numbers, while drastically improving his assist-to-turnover ratio which was less than 2-1 by the year’s end. Rose’s turnover percentage was 14.9 last season. It was the second-highest in his career, second only to the 16 percent that came during the 10 games that he played in the 2013-14 season.
He is a better player than what his turnover percentage suggests. What the statistics show is that Derrick Rose has tried to force things versus letting the game come to him. It also shows that he may not fully trust all of his teammates, despite having the best cast of players that he has ever had in his career.
Chicago Bulls fans want to embrace Derrick Rose.
It is hard not to like him and feel for his story. Rose, a young man who grew up in Englewood, one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago, was drafted to help bring an NBA title back to his hometown. He captured hearts on his way to winning the league’s most prestigious award. All the time that he spent on the practice floor to hone his craft, it was all for his city, Chicago.
When you hear him speak nowadays he comes across as a young man who made it and is afraid to go back. He speaks from his heart, and while his advisors need to censor what he says, there are a few people who knows what he means when he says that he had “tunnel vision” this offseason. The problem is that talk is cheap in the minds of those who have rooted for him to be healthy and successful. One hundred games in three seasons is no way to build trust with the fans. This is not college hoops. Derrick Rose needs to save his talking for the basketball court.
When he does, and can average a doable 19 points and 7-8 assists a per game, with some improved decision-making on both sides of the ball, all will be dismissed. The critics will take back their words and love Derrick Rose again.
[Featured photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Sport]