The Staying Power of Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is a fascinating player both on and off the court. Elements of that fascination aren’t all positive. So far this season he’s averaging the best numbers since his time in New York, putting up 17 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest. Those lines were increased exponentially by a phenomenal 50-point performance against the Utah Jazz.
Rose fans are loyal to a fault when it comes to their injury-riddled idol. To understand why people are so fiercely in their love with the Minnesota guard we need to go back to where it all began in his hometown of Chicago.
Derrick Rose was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. His ascendency to stardom and fall from grace all occurred while wearing a Bulls uniform. Rose experienced immediate individual success in his first season, claiming Rookie of the Year honors. Even more impressive was the fact he made such an impact in his first appearance in the playoffs in the same season. Coming up against the Boston Celtics, the rookie racked up a double-double (36 points, 11 assists) and in the process equalled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for scoring in a playoff debut.
In 2009-10 things only got better. His popularity and form grew in his sophomore season, to the point he was elected an All Star and garnered one of the highest selling jerseys in the league. The only players to outsell him were Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard. While the achievement surprised Rose, his former coach Vinny Del Negro knew it was only the start of things to come for Chicago’s budding star.
“A young kid with a great fan base in a big sports city. That [news] doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s just going to continue to elevate his game as he works and understands things.”
Rose’s historic MVP in 2010-11 made him the youngest winner of the award in league history. His team also experienced great success finishing with the best record in the regular season before falling to the Heat Big Three in the Conference Finals.
The next season only validated his claims as one of the sport’s most popular figures. In February 2012 he re-signed with Adidas for 14 more years, earning himself $185 million contract in the process. Just a few months later he suffered his first ACL injury. From that moment in April 2012 onwards, Rose has never been the same. On the court he never reached the heights of his MVP season and off it the issues continued to pile up.
The rape allegations against Rose that arose in 2015 are important to detail when evaluating not him as a person. Yes, Rose has done plenty of good for his community in Chicago and outside of that as well. He was the first player to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt to protest the murder of Eric Garner by New York police in July 2014. He’s also donated countless amounts of money and time to Chicago charities and school programs. On the other hand, you need to put that aside when making judgements on him as the details of the civil rape case he was involved in are striking, to put it lightly.
Rose and the other defendants were found not guilty of the allegations against them but this entire situation has left a stain upon his reputation and turned many away from being fans of the player.
Despite all of this, D-Rose fans remain steadfast in their devotion to him. To them he can do no wrong. He’s the hometown poster boy made good. His struggles with injury represent a narrative they can latch onto and sympathise with. Rose will never be admired by everyone again, like he seemingly was during his MVP season. But he will always have his superfans, no matter what.
This is reflected in the prices of his cards, with several still fetching in the hundreds of dollars. As long as Rose’s fans stay loyal to him he will be one of the most popular players in the NBA, and vintage performances like last week’s 50-point performance will only serve to boost that popularity all over again.