This season, former NBA Rookie of the Year and MVP Derek Rose of this writer’s Chicago Bulls will make his triumphant return to the hardwood.
Like everyone else, I was aghast at what happened to Rose when he was injured in the first round of the playoffs. After spending the post-Jordan years in the basketball wilderness, Rose represented a return to contention for Bulls fans.
More than that, though, he represented a different kind of NBA player than what we’ve become accustomed to. He was electric on the court, but a shy, reserved person off the court. He spent his time not out at clubs until the wee hours, but with his family at his mother’s home or by himself at his penthouse playing video games and eating candy.
He spent his money not on fabulous mansions, but on inner city basketball courts and on the funerals of children who had been victims of Chicago’s gun violence epidemic.
When he was medically cleared to play after his rehab, he didn’t bow to the immense pressure from fans, twitter, the print or broadcast media, and took the time he felt he needed to ensure long-term success. He seems to understand that sometimes you have to forego short-term gains in order to win the long game. As a Bulls fan himself, he doesn’t want to use himself up in a season or two then watch as the team descends into mediocrity.
It is that long view, combined with his humility and generosity which make Derek Rose, to me, worth waiting for.