The Return of the King: Derrick Rose

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Sunday, March 31, 2013 with 3 comments

It's a fan base that's been promised promise since the steamy summer of 1998.  That summer represented the end of a journey, a journey that encompassed six NBA Championships in an eight year span which in essence spoiled the fan base to the point of being elite.  With no championship past and seemingly no championship future, the fan base was stuck in a limbo that would eventually last a span of ten years.  During that span there were glimpses of hope like sweeping the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat out of the first round of the playoffs during the 2006/07 NBA season but little did the fan base know that their savior was soon to come.

If being humble was a crime, Derrick Rose would spend a lifetime incarcerated, if being hungry was punishable by death, he'd suffer being executed a thousand times.  He has the pressure of a city weighing on him, a challenge that he relishes as slowly puts his body back together after his left knee tragically betrayed him during last seasons' brief playoff run.  The only thing that Rose has been accused of in his career is caring and that's why he's the prodigal son of a city in need of a savior, a city that has been pushed to forefront of the nation for all of the wrong reasons.

In many ways sports can be a unifying force, bridging the gap between generations, bringing together countries who disagree regularly, and soothing the ill wills of race, gender, and socio-economic differences.  Fields, arenas, and stadiums across the globe are filled with a melting pot of humanity all cheering for one common goal, a victory, an army of one that's willing to battle to the death for the ultimate high of being crowned.....a winner.  The opposite can be leave a city, a nation in the midst of deep depression for years and in some cases even decades.

When the Chicago Bulls recently ended the 27 game winning streak of the Miami Heat, Derrick Rose was again absent but the crowed was as animated as ever. They had a reason to fight and many chanted "End the streak" during the closing moments of the game. It was a festive atmosphere in the United Center, one that had been missing for far too long. For one night the Bulls were invincible and resembled an aging boxing champion winning a match against a younger tougher opponent. They were outmatched only in talent but their heart was on display for the world to see, all the while their franchise and perceived savior was absent and fans are beginning to wonder why.

Perhaps Reggie Rose, Derrick's older brother and advisor gave us a glimpse into the logic of the Rose camp a few short months ago when he stated the following while speaking to ESPNChicago.com.

"What have you pieced together? Have you made any moves? Have you made any trades to get better? You know all roads to the championship lead through Miami," Reggie Rose told ESPNChicago.com. "What pieces have you put together for the physical playoffs?

"Joakim Noah is a great player. Luol Deng is a great player. But you need more than that. You have to put together pieces to your main piece. The players can only do so much. It's up to the organization to make them better."

"It's frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him,"

"Everyone is expecting Derrick to come back," Reggie Rose said. "If Derrick comes back, they're going to sell more tickets. Is the reason for Derrick to come back to win a championship or make money? Right now, I don't believe a championship. Everything in the NBA is financial."

Reggie Rose 
Sensing a need to stop any detractors from singling out his brother's comments on his status, Derrick Rose released the following statement but the damage was already done.

"I have always felt that the Bulls organization's goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city," 

Despite Derrick's effort to prevent the negativity, the seeds were already planted and the media sought out to discredit Reggie.  NBA Legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley was the harshest critic of Reggie Rose's comments.

"His brother needs to shut the hell up, number one,” Barkley said. “Listen man, I’m going to make one of the rules, when I’m king of the world — which is never gonna happen — hey man, we don’t care about your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters. Stop tweeting. As Herm Edwards would say, ‘Don’t push send.’ Nobody cares what you think. If a reporter calls you, he wants you to say something bad about somebody else, so don’t be a damn idiot. Stop tweeting about coaches and players and stuff. Let the famous person be famous. You just shut the hell up.”

The initial thought was that Derrick Rose would return late in February, around the time of the NBA All-Star Weekend as he was cleared for practice in January.  Early in March, the Bulls made it public that Rose had been cleared to return but stated that mentally he wasn't prepared to make his comeback which many saw as the franchise putting pressure on their superstar and former MVP.  The story spread like a wild fire and members of the media began to question Derrick Rose for the first time in his career.  It was the first time that the glow of the rising star began to fade.  

As Rose continued to practice, he and and the Bulls would trade what ifs on his possible and there seemed to be a tinge of dissension between the franchise and it's face.  The organization desperately wanting Rose's return and Rose waiting patiently all the while dropping hints that he may miss the entire season.  As Reggie Rose hinted, what is there to come back to now?  The uneasy tension between the two factions can perhaps be traced back to an unlikely but familiar associate of both the Bulls organization and Derrick Rose.  

B.J. Armstrong 
From 1989 to 1995, G B.J. Armstrong won 3 NBA Championships playing with the Chicago Bulls until he was picked to join the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 expansion draft.  Armstrong returned to the Bulls for the 1999/2000 NBA season and once he retired from the game, he transitioned to a front office role by being the special assistant to Vice President of Basketball Operations (de-facto GM) Jerry Krause.  Armstrong was being groomed to be Krause's eventual successor but when Krause retired in 2003, John Paxon was named to replace Krause and Armstrong was relegated to being a scout for the franchise.  Two years later, Armstrong left the franchise and eventually became a sports agent after a short stint of being an analyst for ESPN.

B.J. Armstrong's star client is none other than former MVP and Bulls franchise player Derrick Rose.  It is Armstrong's job to take care of his client and have a working relationship with said client and their employer but this could be a ploy on the part of Armstrong to hold the Bulls franchise hostage.  The franchise that passed you over and now you indirectly have control over their most valuable asset.  If one were to connect the dots here one could easily see that the tension between the two camps was born from the tension between Armstrong and Paxon.  

The Derrick Rose that we all grew to love could have been eviscerated when his left ACL was shredded on April 28th of 2012 and the city that he loves needs its savior to return.  The city is in pain and needs something to cheer.  Rose can listen to his agent, take advise from his brother Reggie who had his ACL torn as well that ended his college reign at Idaho.  If he is indeed 100% healthy as the Bulls have proclaimed then Rose needs to listen to the fans in his city, his fans worldwide.  The city of Chicago is at the forefront of the news cycle these days for all of the wrong reasons.  54 schools are closing leaving which will affect more than 30,000 students and this was preceded by the teachers strike in the fall of 2012 that lasted 8 days and dominated the headlines.  The homicide rate has continued to grow capping off at over 500 by the end of 2012.  

The city is in desperate need of something to cheer for and Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls championship run could be the start of the healing process.  Sports can unify fans bases split by politics, violence and socio-economic divides.  A bright light in a place of dark times is what Derrick Rose represents for his city but the question remains....when will the city see the return of the king?  Only he knows the answer to that and his city is desperately waiting to have something to be proud of once again and forever more.