Have I already used that euphemism? Doesn’t matter. I’m ready for a mea culpa regarding Derrick Rose. He was an inspirational player just a few years ago, but while I think he’s gained some perspective, I’m not sure it’s going to serve him as well as he thinks it will.
Issue A: He’s stated that he’s trying to preserve himself. Once it was for his kids, then it was for his next contract, but no matter how you look at it, that’s a selfish perspective. He chose to go to the NBA and chose to be the face of a storied franchise, and didn’t forego selling gear with his name on the back from the very beginning. His first year in the league, he played without fear. There was nothing about his game that told me that he was preserving himself. He looked like a guy who was better than everyone else at basketball and had a bit of a chip on his shoulder that caused him to prove it. Since then, there’s been a looooong series of injuries and rehabs and questionable press conferences.
Issue B: Carmelo Anthony was courted in a significant way by the Bulls (not by Rose, notably) but he ultimately chose to stay in New York and take a huge contract instead of contending for a title, as he likely would have in Chicago. At first, I thought it was great that he showed his true colors – money was more important than gravitas, it seemed. For the Bulls, a proven team of grinders, it would likely have been a mismatch. But did that avarice inform Derrick Rose “preserving himself” for his next contract. The problem is, one season of league MVP and multiple seasons of disappointment are behind him – who is going to pay him now? And why would they? I don’t remember Michael Jordan sitting out with “general body soreness”.
Issue C: Preserving himself makes him look soft. I’d feel differently if he had pushed to come back from any of his injuries, but he took entire seasons off to rehab. Other players had similar injuries and spent a fraction of the time away from the game. There’s a pretty clear message here – Derrick Rose is no longer invested in being an NBA player, except where payment is concerned. The reality is, lots of players have gotten max contracts, but the ones who haven’t won championships are seen as lesser players, regardless of their skill level. If Rose continues to preserve himself instead of fighting for a championship, he will likely get moved to a team willing to pay for him, which will likely not be a championship-bound team. He’s heading down Allen Iverson lane, and I’m not sure he has as much on his resume as AI.
Issue D: This seems to prove itself time and time again. When you make money your focus, you may gain that money, but once you have all the money you need in the world, then what do you have? Stuff. When you make something bigger your focus, like being the best at something, the money tends to follow, but you are left with something money can’t buy. I’d be completely shocked if Derrick Rose only got into the NBA as a way to grab cash. I think he was more idealistic at some point, and that got lost along the way.
Issue E: A big part of the draw for Rose has been his connection to the city, but the Bulls are the only NBA team here. He doesn’t seem like the face of the franchise already, and if he’s holding out for a max contract in 2017, he most definitely won’t be here at all by then. It’s big picture time for Derrick. I understand business decisions, but some of this stuff transcends a paycheck.