Too big, too strong, too fast, too good! These words still echo in my head every time the name Derrick Rose is mentioned. Through the ups and downs of a roller coaster career, I don’t think this ride is over yet. For some people like myself, including all of Memphis and maybe half of Chicago, Derrick Rose is still an incredible basketball player with more in the tank than most people think.
Rose and I have a
special connection (edit: it’s a little more mine than his) – I got caught up with his play during his freshman season at Memphis while I was also a freshman in college, playing baseball and struggling to perform at the level that I was expected to. I had always been into college basketball before this, but during that year of my life I needed an escape more than ever. Derrick was there to give me that. It seemed like every week that winter and spring, you’d see a bouquet of new amazing plays on SportCenter from the unanimous projected #1 overall pick. How in the hell could I ever be a professional athlete when Derrick Rose looks like he defies the laws of gravity and he’s my age? His explosiveness was animal-like and he played the game with such a controlled bounce to his step. It’s something I still haven’t seen from anyone else at that age.
After losing the NCAA National Championship (and eventually having the whole season wiped due to an SAT invalidation scandal, god dammit Derrick), Rose eventually was the first overall pick by the Bulls. Chicago had just been gifted a Michael Jordan in his second coming. To be fair though, that doesn’t do him justice – he had more physical ability than MJ when he entered the NBA and I think a better finishing ability. When Rose arrived in Chicago, the Bulls were fresh off of a 33-49 season. After winning the ROY in his first season and achieving his first all-star weekend appearance in the his second season, he had the Bulls at the cusp of greatness heading into his third season in the NBA.
With key additions of Boozer and Korver (these were simpler times) and the maturing of Noah averaging a double-double every night, Rose and the Bulls were in the driver seat of the Eastern Conference. After exceeding expectations and locking down the #1 seed, along with Derrick being crowned MVP on a season average stat line of 25, 8, & 4 (again, these were simpler times), they would eventually lose the Cavs in 5 games in the Conference Finals. To me, this was the moment where Derrick’s career pivoted from being a top 3 player in the NBA to becoming an afterthought for most.
Fast forward almost 11 months. I still remember watching the play live against the 76ers in the first game of the 2012 playoffs. It was awful. After a season of fighting through injuries, Rose had finally got himself healthy for what seemed like a promising playoff run, and then the basketball gods pumped the brakes and slammed the NBA world through the windshield on that plan. Whatever people say, he hasn’t been the same player since that night, but if you think he’s only a shadow of his former self, you’re wrong.
I think the Cavs have picked up one of the best off-season acquisitions. The only thing I don’t like is the ownership situation in Cleveland. Dan Gilbert, you greasy pussy of a man who destroyed the pawn shop industry in America, I’m calling your bitch ass out. Gilbert, along with Reinsdorf in Chicago and an aging operations executive Uncle Phil in New York has left Derrick with about as shitty of an ownership group as a player can have in their career. It’s my hope that Gilbert doesn’t interfere with the Cavs success this season.
The bottom line is that if you think Derrick Rose is on his way out of the NBA, think again. We’ve never seen a better scorer at improvising his way to the rim (imagine a slightly predictable Westbrook, but with the grace of a gymnast). He’s got the mental ability that most NBA players strive for during their career, and even though he’s had around what seems like a dozen surgeries on the lower half of his body, he’s still only 28 years old. Writing this in August leaves me plenty of room to retract this, but I fully believe that in June next year, Rose will be a finalist for the Most Improved Player award after a stellar season. Too big, too strong, too fast, and too good – and also not done.