Michael Jordan was the face of Chicago basketball since 1984 as he led the Bulls to six NBA championships. Once Jordan left the city in 1998, he slowly and gradually began the process of severing ties with the place that made him a global icon.
For the past 14 years, Jordan's ties with Chicago have been in name association only as he aligned himself with Washington, D.C., and now as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in North Carolina, the place he calls “home.”
Of course you can't blame a guy for wanting to return to his roots after making his mark on the world. And while this city will always love him and show gratitude for all that he accomplished while in Chicago – the statue of him outside the United Center and the legions of Chicagoans who still wear his sneakers are a permanent reminder of the greatest days in Bulls history – the fact remains that MJ is gone and he's not coming back.
But that's OK. We have Derrick Rose now.
Rose, as you know, is actually from the Windy City. Born and raised on the South side, this is the place he always has and always will call home. D. Rose reps Chicago proudly. You can hear it in his speech and it's visible in his tattoos. He has the city's skyline tattooed on his left hand and the words 'Sweet Home Chicago' inked just above it. He also has 'Englewood All-Star' tatted on his forearms.
Safe to say, there's no question about his loyalty to Chicago. Perhaps that's the very reason the city shows him the same, unabashed love in return.
When Michael Jordan was here, he lived on the outskirts of the city, secluded from those who loved and adored him, and because of that dynamic, you only "felt" his presence. In fact, very few people have seen with their own eyes the signature '23' on the gates outside his compound. Of course, being the megastar that he was in his heyday and the fact that he had a family, you can't really begrudge him for it, but again, this is where he differs from Rose.
Derrick is a megastar in his own right and currently resides in a downtown condo on the 84th floor of the Trump building featuring panoramic views of this beautiful city. In other words, he can always see us, and whenever we look up at our world famous skyline, we can always “see” him too.
Chicago will always love you, Mike, but D. Rose is truly one of "us."