Featured Image from: USA Today
Derrick Rose brought back vintage D-ROSE in the Timberwolves 128-125 win over the Utah Jazz last Wednesday, scoring a career high 50 points, with 15 coming from the 4th quarter and game deciding block to seal the deal. An emotional Rose walked off the court to the Wolves chants of “MVP!” which is reminiscent of his Bull’s days when his body was still in optimal shape, and his team wreaking havoc through the Eastern conference. Everybody loves an underdog’s story, and Rose’s 50 is one for the ages.
Where it all went downhill
Rose took over the league with his historical performances during his rookie and sophomore season, matching records of all time greats like Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Fans loved him for his electrifying handles, his God-like air time, leading to a fearless and explosive finish to the basket. He stacked the highlight reels with these mind-boggling plays until it all took a toll on his golden goose, his knees.
During the playoffs of the 2011-2012 season, the Chicago Bulls were up against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rose, to everyone’s expectation had a monster performance nearing a triple-double en-route to a Game 1 in the first round. However, with 1:12 left in the 4th, Rose injured his left knee while trying to jump and has immediately helped off the courtside medical staff. It was revealed after an MRI scan that he had suffered a torn ACL on his left knee and would not be able to return to the playoffs. To the fans disappointment, the Bulls were eliminated in the first round by the 76ers with their star point guard on a questionable timetable for return.
During the off-season, Rose had to undergo a knee surgery which set his recovery period to about 10-12 months, which meant that he would miss the 2012-2013 season. This disappointed Bull’s fans that were looking forward to end the season on a high note, possible even a championship with a stacked roster and leadership from Tom Thibodeau. During the 2011-2012 season Rose had signed an extension with the Bulls which granted him 30% of their salary cap amounting to $94.8 million over 5 years. This tied up the Bull’s salary cap which prevented them acquiring new talent to solidify a roster that could go head to head with the juggernaut Miami Heat team. And as everyone expected, the Chicago Bulls faced the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and they took a 4-1 loss with their star shelved.
The return and demise of the prodigy
Though suffering a tough loss to the champs, Bulls fans were in high hopes of a strong 2013-2014 season as Rose was set to return from his hiatus. There were a lot of questions as to whether he could still play at the level he was playing prior to his injury considering Rose’s play style was mostly off of his explosiveness which required his knees to be in top form. During the pre season, Rose stated that he was in optimal condition and even said that he felt better than ever after the surgery.
But to everyone’s dismay, Rose had a slow start to the season. Considering the severity of the injury he suffered, this was bound to happen and bringing back the old hops was going to take awhile. Add to the fact the he had a pretty long lay-off from the limelight and was under the microscope of fans, critics and the Bulls organization. The season progressed and the revival of the D-Rose everyone was waiting for did not see light. He went on to have mediocre to weak performance averaging only 15.9 PPG and shooting only 30% from the field. Six games into his return, the Bulls had to face the Portland Trailblazers, where Rose shockingly suffers another knee injury while running to try to change directions. This time it was a meniscus tear in his right knee, which ruled him out for the rest of season.
Rose’s return to the hard court has always been short lived as went on to suffer more injuries to his knees, missing more games and ultimately frustrating the Bulls franchise. And by the end of the 2015-2016 season, Rose was traded to the New York Knicks. He showed signs of a resurgence at the start of the season, which again was short lived as he suffers another torn meniscus in his left knee ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Rose was given another chance with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2017-2018 season, and as everyone expected Rose, continued to miss games due to injuries. It got to a point that at 29 years old, Derrick Rose, former MVP and All Star, was contemplating retirement. Reports say that the injuries have been taking a toll on Rose physically and mentally as he was contemplating whether his love for the game was worth more than his future with his family and his long term health. This frustrated fans even further and led to D-Rose’s stock to drop, wherein the challenge wasn’t about being able to play again, but whether there would be a team that would want him on their roster. He was now a liability, a ticking time bomb if you would call it. And a financial risk with no guaranteed return on investment for any organization that would be willing to invest cap space.
Reuniting with Tom and the gang
After his release from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rose was stuck in limbo waiting for a team to call and sign him. Heartbreaking videos of Rose practicing in an empty college gym surfaced showing the painful struggle of a man giving his all for the love of a sport that seemed to have never loved him back. But, much to everyone’s surprise, Rose was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves who were now coached by Tom Thibodeau, his coach with the Bulls, along with other Bulls team mates Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.
Derrick Rose has now accepted his new role on the court. He was now a veteran that helps facilitate the success of the team by letting younger and healthier players shine while he supports and provides them with wisdom and experience of playing at a high level. Rose stripped of his ego, with only his undying determination to be a part of the league, welcomed the challenge of being the 3rd option, at a low pay grade, in a talent filled team. And on October 31, 2018 his moment came. A historical career high 50 point game, that’s more than just statistics, but the culmination of hard work to comeback from the darkest place an NBA player can go, towards another shot at greatness.