It’s unfortunate, but the 2012-13 season for the Chicago Bulls won’t be remembered for what the team accomplished, it’ll be remembered as the season that Derrick Rose elected not to play.
Not only is that unfair to D. Rose, but it’s unfair to the team who fought hard and scrapped and did things that no one expected them to do. But this post isn’t about that. This is about the way everyone seemed to turn on the guy that made professional basketball in this town worth watching again.
Whether in articles, Facebook posts or on Twitter, many people felt Derrick Rose owed someone something. Fans screamed, “we pay your salary!” and national columnists and sports television personalities screamed, “you owe it to your teammates to play!”
But ironically, out of all the opinions thrown out about the decision to take things slowly, very few people mentioned that Derrick Rose owed it to himself and his family to get back to his pre-injury state, not matter how long it took. The amount of vitriol thrown his way with each game the Bulls won, especially in the playoffs, reached near-epic proportions, especially when many guys on the roster were playing hurt and in a few cases, sick.
As sports fans, especially Chicago sports fans, the Rose injury and subsequent wait for his return brought out the ugly side in of a lot of us, even in those of us who cover sports for a living and who should know better. Many of the members of the local media who bashed or questioned Rose should have a much greater understanding of the seriousness of Rose’s injury and subsequent rehab, and then communicate that to our audience instead of playing up the narrative that painted D. Rose in a negative light.
And hey, if the local guys can bash the Bulls best player, then it’s fair game for the national media to do it as well, right? Now all of a sudden you have everybody talking about Derrick Rose and the angry voices were far louder than the voices of those offering support and understanding.
In fairness, from a PR perspective, the situation certainly could’ve been handled and executed a lot better, and things could’ve been done in a way that didn’t seem to leave D. Rose on an island. But through it all, he handled the criticism magnificently. A soft or mentally work person wouldn’t have been able to do that.
In the end, Derrick Rose at least deserved the benefit of the doubt for knowing his body and knowing he wasn’t ready to compete at the level he was before he got hurt. Yes, putting on his uniform and merely playing would have been sufficient for everyone else, but it wouldn’t have been good enough for him. And we should all understand and respect that.
Derrick Rose doesn’t owe any of us anything, and we would do well to remember that no matter how much an athlete earns, they are still people and not commodities.
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