Photo Credit: Getty Images
Written By: Michael Facci (Follow Mike on Twitter @_Facci)
Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity states “what goes up, must come down”, but Newton never stated just how long it may take for that object to come back down. Derrick Rose’s rise to stardom is no secret, but just how long did it last before it all came crashing down?
With the March 1st, playoff eligibility waiver deadline having just passed, the question asked far too many times will be asked again once more. This time with a far more solemn feel to it, at just the age of 29 years old, is this the last that we’ve seen of Derrick Rose?
In order to fully understand how we got to this point, let’s start from the very beginning. Once upon a time, a star was born in Southside, Chicago, whom in 2009 would be voted by ESPN Rise the magazine as the third greatest high school point guard in the past decade, trailing only Chris Paul and T.J. Ford. Rose would win back to back high school state championships, before guiding the University of Memphis to an NCAA record 38 wins and a runner-up finish in the National Championship as a freshman.
Controversy would ensue as an investigation revealed that Derrick Rose was in violation of having another person take his SAT exam (Derrick Rose Busted). The investigation led to the University of Memphis being stripped of their record 38 wins and NCAA Championship appearance, as Coach John Calipari skipped town to the University of Kentucky and Derrick Rose declared for the 2008 NBA draft.
Little to no surprise, with the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Rose was selected by his hometown Chicago Bulls. A match made in heaven as Chicago’s son returned home to bring back what they have craved ever since the legend himself Michael Jordan left town, an NBA championship.
Rose Finds Success Early In His Career
Chicago’s son would close out his rookie season with Rookie of the Year honors and get the Bulls back into the playoffs as a 7th seed to take on the defending champion Boston Celtics, led by their Hall of Fame Big three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. Rose turned in a historic playoff debut as he tied the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most points ever in a playoff debut, scoring 36 points and dishing out 10 assists in a stunning overtime, game 1 win at Boston. The Bulls would fall to the Celtics in seven games, but not before the league took notice of Rose.
Rose’s encore in the 2009-2010 NBA season would earn him his first All-Star birth, but the Bulls would once again be bounced in the first round of the playoffs, this time to the Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers. If Rose was going to make it out of the first round he would need to take his training to the next level.
Rose responded that off-season by winning a gold medal with Team USA in the FIBA Olympics, leading the Bulls to 2010-2011 NBA best 62-20 record, an Eastern Conference finals appearance, and becoming the youngest MVP in NBA history at just 22 years and 6 months old.
Contract Extension and Endorsements
During the 2011-2012 NBA season, Rose and the Bulls would agree upon a 5-year extension worth $94.8M. This contract included what is now known as the Derrick Rose Rule, which allowed for a player to be paid up to 30% of the salary cap per year if the player has won either an MVP award, was twice voted an All-Star starter, or was twice named to an All-NBA team his first four years in the league. That season Rose would be elected to his third straight All-Star game, finishing as the second leading vote-getter behind only Dwight Howard (man, how things have changed). During the All-Star break, Adidas worked aggressively and succeeded in resigning Rose to one of the most lucrative endorsement deals in sports history, a $185M deal over the course of the next 14 years. Having only missed 13 games in his NBA career thus far, Adidas felt confident in Rose being the face of the brand for years to come. The details of this deal to this day are a bit of a head-scratcher, but you have to applaud Rose’s group for the way they cashed in (You Get Paid, I Get Paid, Everybody Gets Paid).
Injuries Begin To Pile On
Various injuries limited Rose to just 39 games that season, however the Bulls would once again finish as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, setting up a first-round matchup against the 8th seed Philadelphia 76ers.
With just 1:20 left in the 4th quarter and the Bulls up 12 points on the 76ers, Rose drove the lane and immediately grabbed his knee. Bulls fans gasped in disbelief as Rose crawled to the sideline and a once promising career began to unravel (The Start of the End). Just 64 days after signing his mega-deal with Adidas, Rose was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee as the 76ers became just the 5th team in NBA history to eliminate a 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs as an 8th seed.
Rehab proved to be a trying one as even when Rose was cleared to return to NBA action the Bulls elected to shut him down for the full 2012-2013 season. Coming off a strong preseason and looking healthy for the first time since April of 2011, Rose said "I think I'm way more explosive now. Like getting to the rim. I think I can take contact a little bit better. And as far as jumping-wise, I think I can jump even higher. They tested my vertical -- I increased it by 5 inches". Just 10 games into the 2013-2014 NBA season, Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee and following successful surgery, he was shut down for the rest of the season.
Having played just 49 games over the previous three seasons after signing a large extension with the Bulls, questions about Derrick Rose’s knees were about as common as Liam Neeson starring in a movie seeking revenge on someone. Rose would once again return healthy for the start of the 2014-2015 season before another meniscus tear in his right knee required surgery. However, this time Rose would return that season and play in his first NBA playoff game in three years. With the Eastern Conference Semifinals even at 1 game apiece and the score tied at 96-96, Rose would remind us of his once brilliance. With three seconds left, Rose caught the inbounds pass, took two dribbles and banked in a three-pointer for the win, sending the United Center and Chicago Bulls fans into a frenzy (“BANGGGGG”).
A serious rape allegation against Rose would come about in the summer of 2015. Following an underwhelming 2015-2016 season in which the Bulls missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, Rose would be dealt to the New York Knicks in a deal that was viewed as the start of Chicago’s rebuild.
The 2016-2017 season would prove to be Rose’s finest season since his MVP year, but following a mysterious absence in which Rose no-showed the Knicks game against the New Orleans Pelicans, a bridge began to be burned. An MRI revealing a meniscus tear in Rose’s left knee, his 4th knee surgery in just 9 seasons marked the end of Rose’s tenure in New York.
Reality Sinks In For Rose
Entering free agency for the first time in his career, Rose made it known that he not only viewed himself as a max player, but he also wanted to be paid like one. After very few serious offers came in, Rose elected to sign a 1-year veteran minimum $2.1M deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers stating “I get a chance to reintroduce myself back to the league. I bet on myself. Next time you’ve got to pay me, you’ve got to pay me double, so its fine with me”. While paying Rose “double” only equates to $4.2M, it is a far cry from the $21M he was making just one year prior with the Knicks.
Just over a month into his stint with the Cavaliers, injuries and frustration set in, leading Rose to ask for “a leave of absence” so he could evaluate his NBA future. Unfortunately, Rose’s stint as a Cavalier will likely best be remembered for the fact that he secretly got married during his leave of absence and despite returning to the court for the Cavaliers, Rose was dealt to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline (Rose to Utah?). Before Rose could essentially even look up the weather in Salt Lake City, the Jazz elected to waive him.
Photo Credit: NBA.com
With Rose now unlikely to play again this season, it has become more apparent now than ever before that everything can change in the blink of an eye. Rose would never make another All-Star game after that fateful night of April 28th, 2012 against the 76ers. He would never bring Chicago back to the glory days of Michael Jordan that everyone assumed was just “a matter of time”. Heck, go on ESPN.com and on the right-hand search tab type in “Derrick Rose”, his name doesn’t even filter. Type in just the letter “E” and an undrafted E.J. Singler from 2013 draft will show up immediately, random yes, I know.
If Kristaps Porzingis is widely regarded as the “Unicorn” of the NBA today, then Derrick Rose might as well have been known as the “Gazelle” for the way he was able to gallop through the lane to score at ease. To put a perspective on Rose’s fall from stardom, since 1956 every former NBA MVP winner who has been eligible for the Hall of Fame IS in the Hall of Fame (Lone Man Out?). The list of MVPs’ who have not been eligible for the Hall of Fame yet includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook, all of which are either shoe-ins or it is just a matter of time.
While the best of Derrick Rose is definitely behind him, the last question may be “is there anything left?”.