Derrick Rose, the number one overall pick from Chicago, drafted by his hometown Bulls. The pressure of playing for your hometown is highly overwhelming and would be difficult for any athlete. Let’s add Michael Jordan’s enormous shadow to the equation. Now you’re asking this kid to build the Bulls back to the top of the basketball world where they were during the Jordan era. The task laid out before him is near impossible.
Derrick Rose came into the league blazing and won the 2008-2009 NBA Rookie of the Year award and led the Bulls to the playoffs. He averaged 16.8 ppg, 6.3 apg and 3.9 rpg while shooting 47.5% from the field and 22.2 % from behind the arc. He also shot 78.8% from the free throw line.
In Rose’s first ever playoff game he recorded a triple double. The Bulls eventually lost to the Boston Celtics in an epic seven game series. It was only his rookie year but he put the league on notice and everyone saw the Derrick Rose may be able to live up to the hype.
In the 2010-2011 NBA season, at the young age of 22, Derrick Rose was name the MVP. He averaged 25 ppg, 7.7 apg, and 3.1 rpg. The hometown kid from Chicago became the youngest MVP in league history and led the Bulls to 62 wins and the number one seed in the east. Rose led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The Bulls fell to the Heat 4-1 in the series but Rose had become the face of the Bulls and the future was bright.
The next year was the year the league was locked out and played a shortened season but still Derrick Rose led the Bulls to the number one seed and looked like they were on a collision course for a rematch with the Heat, but on April 29, 2012 the city of Chicago froze in sadness as Derrick Rose tore his left ACL in the first playoff game. The Bulls never recovered after that game and lost to the eighth seeded 76ers.
Derrick Rose’s career was also in jeopardy because coming back from an ACL tear is always difficult and nearly impossible to regain the form before the injury. People knew he would come back, but nobody knew if he would be the same
He didn’t even return to the court the following season. He decided it was best for his career to heal slowly rather than rush back like many athletes try to. This left plenty of criticism for Rose but he never backed away from his decision and he returned the following season on October 29th, 2013. Rose only lasted 10 games before he tore his meniscus in his right knee. This ended his season yet again and the basketball word had begun to feel sad for the leagues youngest ever MVP as he could never get healthy.
He came back for the 2014 season ready to prove he was still capable of being the best player in the league but once again Rose tore his right meniscus.
This was the end of Derrick Rose being a top player in the NBA. He was written off by nearly everyone. His biggest fans and supporters found it hard to see the positives after this injury. It was time to talk about Rose and what might have been. Would he be the best player in the league without all the injuries? Would the Bulls have won a title without the injuries? Derrick Rose became a “what if”.
Fast forward to present day. Derrick Rose has sat out of the last two games due to hamstring tightness. He has had a few minor injuries since then but has played and started 48 out of the 56 games this year.
He isn’t playing at an all-star level but he is contributing to a team fighting for the playoffs. His numbers aren’t stellar but if we dive in and look at his last 15 games he is starting to look like the Derrick Rose that won an MVP. He is no longer timid and is finding his way to the free throw line. Over his last 15 games he is shooting 45% and averaging 20.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, and 4.6 rpg. He is also shooting 88.7% from the free throw line.
Quietly Derrick Rose is coming back after three major knee injuries. It remains to be seen if he will ever be the same as he was when he won an MVP, but with the emergence of Jimmy Butler and his continued increase in production the Bulls may be a year or two away from competing for a title.
Rose has fought back through so much adversity for a kid drafted into enormous expectations. This year he may be still just trying to get to the top but it is fun to watch him overcome so many injuries and still give the fans of Chicago hope that maybe he still does have it.
Maybe he still can deliver a championship to Chicago. Many people said “what if” about Rose after his injuries and those “what ifs” were directed at how good he could have been without those injures. Nobody said “what if” he comes back better than ever.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and Derrick Rose didn’t return to MVP form in a day but make no mistake, Derrick Rose is back, and he is only going to get better.