Somewhere, in some gym, training room or weight room, is a tireless Derrick Rose. A Derrick Rose that has not been talked or even mentioned about for quite some time now. Odds are, he’s liking it that way. Like he has for the majority of his professional life, he has worked silently, even if his actions have grabbed local and national headlines for the better and the worst. Regardless his focus has never been more clear than it is today: he doesn’t care about being the MVP again, or having an inspirational comeback story, he and his team have one goal, championship(s).
As the NBA free agency frenzy has finally slowed its roll a bit and the dust has begun to settle in wake of LeBron going home to Cleveland and Melo staying home in New York, the talk is now about who wins the Eastern Conference that is completely up for grabs. Sure Cleveland is favored with a wealth of young talent, but can LBJ be the man and the mentor? Can the Heat regroup with a more balanced roster led by Wade and Bosh? Can Indiana survive without the do-everything-man Lance Stephenson? How many points can Melo score to keep the Knicks relevant for a season? With plenty of questions left to be answered, it’s funny how the fate of the East weighs so heavily on two surgically repaired knees.
Now, I’m not writing about how good the Bulls will/should be in 2014-15, I’ll leave that to Thibs and the gang to decide. But in a way, I still am. In one full season under Thibodeau, Rose became the league’s youngest MVP, they won 62 games and didn’t lose three times in a row all year. They did it with a lineup of Rose, Keith Bogans (avg. 4.4 ppg.) Deng, Boozer and Noah who both were injured at separate times throughout the season.
This season features the best and deepest front court in the league with Noah, Gasol, Mitoric and Gibson to go along with a lot more variety as far as shooting goes featuring Dunleavy, Snell and McDermott. If the Bulls can add another piece at the 2 or 3 position in free agency, the numbers speak for themselves, that’s of course if Rose stays healthy.
I don’t think there will be a better story in sports this year. LeBron James choosing to go back home and play for the Cavs next season made the sports world stand still. The World Cup became completely irrelevant, Jeter’s final All-Star game was pushed aside for a bit, heck even non-traditional sports stations covered it.
Anyone outside of Cleveland doesn’t fully comprehend what it means to those people. He is an incredible basketball player and a business. LeBron going home will generate nearly $500 Million in revenue and doubled the worth of the franchise. If you actually think about that, the only word I can come up with is ludicrous. He chose to go to Cleveland knowing that the road to a championship is far more difficult, but the reward of winning one for your hometown that has suffered far greater than just sports and raised you to make you the man you are today would truly make LeBron “The Chosen one” in Cleveland. It’s a fairy-tale story that only needs a fairy-tale ending.
Yet 300 miles West there is a similar script to be written.
LeBron James left Cleveland by choice. Looking back on it, some say he had no choice but to go to Miami, which is false and completely contradicts the word “choice.”
Derrick Rose truly didn’t have a choice. He left by a physical and emotional pain that he has never experienced before and unfortunately so many other athletes have. He too was raised by his hometown, drafted number 1 overall by his hometown team and destined to bring back the 90’s glory days to Chicago. Regarded in 2011 and the beginning of 2012 as the best point guard in the league and a top 5 player overall, is now left completely out of those conversations today.
After tearing his ACL, he vowed to comeback a better player like he has vowed to bring back a Championship to Chicago. And as he begun to find his old ways, looking better in every game in 2013, he went back down. Gone once again.
When LeBron left Cleveland, fans acted out in anger, burning his jersey and booed him every time he came back in a Heat uniform. Our fault as Chicago fans? We mock a player who told us he would never leave us, that he was here to stay through the good and the bad. We questioned the toughness of a kid who made it out of the South Side of Chicago, which you know, happens to be on the news everyday for violence.
But deep down, even while we enjoyed the success other teams in our city like the Hawks winning a second Stanley Cup in 3 years. Rose being hurt, arguably was more painful than LeBron leaving Cleveland. We know how much he cares, we have seen it.
We may be hard on him at times, (you’re lying if you haven’t made a Derrick Rose injured joke of some sort in the past two years) yet no one is harder on him than himself. He expects incredible things out of himself, as he should, we forget how talented he is and that he’s still 25 years old. He is humble, caring and kind-hearted. He wants to and will do anything possible for the Chicago Bulls and the City of Chicago, it means that much to him.
This upcoming season will be the most important one of the Rose’s career, no matter how long it will last. 2 surgically repaired knees over the course of 3 calendar years is a death sentence to any athlete in most cases and I have said that before. But he will comeback, and will do everything his power to fulfill his promise.
So while you’ll hear every possible coming home story about LeBron and how much he means to Northeastern Ohio this coming season; remember that Derrick never left, and never will. Our love and belief in him has been tested at times, especially when James won two titles in Miami when Rose and Co. could have had a say about it.
And that is why he continues to work everyday in that gym somewhere. The playing field has been leveled. The King has returned home,
Our King never left.
Too big, too strong, too fast,