I remember the first time hearing the name Derrick Rose. It was 2006 and word on the street was this Chicago kid from Simeon Career Academy was the next best thing. As basketball recruiting goes, there’s a lot of “next best things” so in a way my eleven year old self just sort of shrugged it off. However being a wannabe basketball junkie at the time, I decided to hop on the “old fashion” desktop computer in my parent’s bedroom and punch “Derrick Rose basketball” into Google. The initial hope here was to check this guy out and hopefully impress my dad by being able to spit some high school basketball knowledge. Then I saw his highlights from the Chicago Public League Championship game.
This kid was unreal. I hadn’t seen too many high school highlight tapes in my exciting eleven years on earth, but even I could tell this kid was different. His explosiveness and self-control was unbelievable and bewildered my already foggy image of what high school basketball was. It was his first time playing at the United Center and he made it count. Dropping 25 points as a junior on a stage like that was beyond impressive. Eleven years old or not, I was impressed.
Fast forward to the 2008 NBA Draft. Coming off a phenomenal freshman season at Memphis (falling just short of a National Championship) Rose gets drafted number one overall to who else but the Chicago Bulls. It’s a dream. The hometown hero gets to play his pro ball just 25 minutes from his high school and everything is right in the world. The 2008 and 2009 seasons go well for Rose as he averages 19 and 23 points per game respectively leading the Bulls to impressive playoff runs.
As great as those were for an opening act, Drose had his real coming out party during the 2010 season. Averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists a game, Rose leads the Bulls to a 62-20 record and wins league MVP honors in the process. This was the kid I saw on my family’s Dell desktop four years earlier. This was the kid everyone in Chicago had hoped he would become after seeing him dominate at Simeon. Glimpses of Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman flashed before the eyes of Bulls fans. They were back on their way to dominance thanks to guys like Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and of course the greatest thing since deep dish pizza, the almighty Derrick Rose.
2011 came along with optimism, hope, and excitement surrounding the United Center. Sky was the limit for Rose and his team and NBA fans everywhere had their eyes back on Chicago. Then things took a dark turn. After a slew of injuries during the regular season, Rose returned for the first round of the playoffs against the 76ers. As game one neared its end, Rose came down awkwardly on his right knee and just like that, a torn ACL had turned optimism and hope into gloom and anxiety. The 2012 season included 94 games for the Bulls and a second round exit versus the Miami Heat. Not one of those 94 games included Rose. As unfortunate as this was, this led every NBA fan to believe that when 2013 came around, they would finally get to see a healthy Derrick Rose again. November 22 brought that hope to an abrupt stop. Cutting behind the basket in Portland, Rose tore his meniscus resulting in the end of his season. 2014 seemed to have a more positive outlook. Rose was playing like himself at the All-Star break and the Bulls were forming together like Coach Tom Thibodeau had hoped. But once again, the injury bug came back biting for more.
Last night I found myself feeling more sad about sports than I had in a very long time. Sitting in my college dorm I came across the news that an MRI had found a torn right meniscus which would require surgery for Rose. The only word that comes to mind for me is unfair. He doesn’t deserve this. It’s unfortunate that at this point it’s becoming a normality just as it did for guys like Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and the like. He has seemed to form into our generation’s Penny Hardaway.
As tough as it is to say the day following a third major knee injury, Drose will be back and the Bulls will be just fine. But at this point it’s about Derrick Rose, the 26-year-old man from Chicago. I feel for him and desperately hope that at some point in the future we will get to see just a fraction of that 17-year-old point guard I watched on my parent’s desktop.
Here’s to a speedy recovery for one hell of a basketball player.