It was November 22 when things shifted for Derrick Rose again. It was a typical game for the Bulls on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers. For fans it was a chance to watch last season’s Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard, square off against Rose, in their first matchup against each other.
In the first half, Derrick Rose was playing aggressive and was driving to the hoop with ease. After returning during preseason and playing in his tenth game back, he finally looked like he was losing the rust. He had developed confidence in his knees and was using his explosive ability to get to the rim. Towards the end of the third quarter, Rose had scored 20 points. He was definitely having the best game since he returned. Then it happened… Again.
With three minutes and 34 seconds left in the third quarter, Joakim Noah tried to force a pass into the paint to a cutting Rose, which was destined to be a great finish. Nicolas Batum intercepted the pass while Rose forcefully cut back trying to run to play defense. His knee buckled after the cut. He hobbled up the court, first trying to run and put pressure on it. Then he walked right off and sat on the Bulls bench. The trainers and Bulls personnel all focused on him.
As fans around the world watched, we hoped it wasn’t what we thought it was. This cannot be happening again, not to D. Rose. After all of the rehabilitation from his torn ACL injury in the 2012 NBA Playoffs in Philadelphia and the marketing campaigns on his return, the setback was pretty evident. The injury did not look good on television. His face was full of agony and you can catch a glimpse of the frustrations that were going through his mind. It was a torn right medial meniscus tear, the same injury that took out his fellow explosive guard counterpart Russell Westbrook in the 2013 Playoffs. The bad news came days later, with the Bulls organization announcing that Derrick Rose would go through a season-ending surgery to repair the tear.
During the 21-minute press conference, Rose looked around the room full of reporters and uttered “Wassup?” into the microphone with a smile that you could tell was painful. The first question from a reporter’s mouth:
“Derrick, can you just talk about the mental part of what you had to go through since the first moment in Portland, when you felt some pain in the knee then having find out it was surgery again?”
The mentality of Derrick Rose
The mental of aspect of Derrick Rose has longed been analyzed. A quiet and humble star from Chicago, Rose was never a player that sought the spotlight. We have seen it on many occasions, especially during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game when he was named a starter (1:40 mark).
He is one of the most unique superstars. In a league saturated with very charismatic NBA players, Rose is in his own world. He is not LeBron or D. Wade and is not going to show off his personality. It is just who he is.
In 2012, Derrick Rose appeared on the cover of GQ as writer Will Leitch tabbed him as the next Jordan on the front page. Leitch wrote in the feature about Rose’s denial of the spotlight:
“As the star of a top team in a league that markets individuals more than any other sport in America (a league that has long had a reputation of harboring the hardest-partying athletes in America), Rose bristles at the thought of going out. In one way, this is refreshing. He just wants to do his own thing. But the more I think about itâ€”the more I hear Rose talk about how little he enjoys interacting with strangers, how desperately he misses being able to walk around unnoticed, how mournful he gets when the topic of “attention” is breached, how obviously uncomfortable he is even in basic social situations outside his immediate circleâ€”it strikes me as unbearably sad.”
Rose has never liked the attention. Michael Jordan may have lived an iconic life in his time in Chicago, but Derrick Rose is the city’s native son. The pressure was always at another notch for Rose, growing up. He was the chosen one, the one to make it out the tough Englewood neighborhood. He carried the spirit and the hopes of Ben Wilson, a prodigy out of Chicago that was killed prior to his senior season in 1984.