Sunday, February 15, 2015

Basketball Is My Favorite Sport. Derrick Rose Is My Favorite Player.

Basketball is my favorite sport. My dad has always watched it. I played in middle school, my mama took me to my first Nuggets game when I was like 7 or 8 I think. It wasn't until the end of college/after college when I really started to appreciate the sport. For some reason I find the squeak of the shoes on the court, comforting. (Courtney, I know you hate it). Sometimes even when I don't care about a game I'll turn it on and do other things around the house, I like it as background noise. I have said several times, half jokingly, if I could choose one talent it would be to dunk a basketball. Maybe it's just because it is probably physically impossible (*not officially confirmed). I am just under 5'4" and my wingspan is exactly the same.  You do the math. I think I would have to develop a super-human vertical to even get close to a regulation basketball hoop. It's kind of funny with as much as I talk basketball, every once in awhile someone will ask me to play in a pick up game. Truthfully, I don't think I could keep up in even the most amateur, non-competitive game. I would love to try, but I would be kind of embarrassed to since I spend so much time talking about, and watching the sport, but can't even bounce the ball through my legs. Every once in awhile I'll shoot around in an empty gym... One of these days I will leave my pride behind and give it a shot, but for now let's talk about people who can play.

My favorite NBA player is Derrick Rose, starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. I am astounded at how little support Rose seems to have, nationwide (this is purely my own observation... I don't (aint nobody) have time to go searching for that kind of obscure poll of public opinion). He's such an incredible basketball player, though. I find myself mesmerized by the television when he's on the court. His agility and explosiveness is close to unbelieveable. Okay, i'll lay off the adjectives now. Unfortunately, his short NBA career has been plagued with injuries thus far. Here is a brief timeline:
  • 2007: Rose is named Mr. Illinois Basketball while attending Simeon high school.
  • 2007-2008: Leads The University of Memphis basketball team to The National Championship during his Freshman year.
Rose played for Memphis for only one season before entering the NBA draft.
  • 2008: Rose is the 1st overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft, out of Memphis.

Rose was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2008 out of Memphis. He was the #1 pick.
  • 2008-2009: He earns Rookie of the Year honors and leads the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs.
  • 2010: Rose is selected to start in the 2010 All-Star game for the first time (he also played on the All-Star teams in 2011 and 2012).
  •  May 2011: Rose is named MVP of the league. He is the youngest NBA player in history, at 22 years and 7 months to grab this title.
  • April 2012: In the first round of the 2012 playoffs, against the Philadelphia 76ers with less than 2 minutes left to play, Rose comes down hard on his left knee. An MRI reveals a torn ACL. Rose sits out the entirety of the 2012-2013 season.

  • October 2013: Rose returns after much hype and anticipation, including a web-based mini-series sponsored by Adidas, #thereturn 
  • November 2013: Rose loses his footing while attempting to change direction in a game at Portland. Tears the meniscus in his right knee. He is declared done for the remainder of the season.
  • 2014-2015: Rose returns to the game... again. He spends the first part of the season on minute restriction, but at present is averaging 31 minutes, and 19 points per game. 
Okay, so given that in my experience he's not as widely loved as you might think based on my excessive description above, I'm thinking most of you are probably bored. But wait! I'm gonna talk about psychology now. Actually, Rose's injuries and the public reaction to them is THE thing that first piqued my interest in sports psychology. Yeah, obviously everyone is interested in his physical well being, but do you really think someone goes through ups and downs like that in terms of public opinion, his career- and therefore his financial well-being, his family, his passion for crying out loud, and doesn't end up emotionally drained and exhausted? Think about how you feel when you're too sick to go to work... You know you're losing money (okay, not all of us), you're falling behind on work, other people are having to pick up your slack... you're stressed right?! Now imagine the entire nation (at least the entire City of Chicago), is monitoring your progress in getting healthy. Oh, and you're 23-25 years old trying to handle this... remember what it was like to be 23? Yikes. I do. 

So he gets through this first injury. Adidas, the company his shoe deal is with, does a documentary series on his rehab and journey back to the court. They hype it up, make some commercials, plaster his face on some billboards (I don't know about the billboards, I'm just assuming that part). The Bulls and Chicago make a big scene about it all and everyone is pumped for him to come back in all his glory.

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He's officially back to work at the beginning of the 2013 season. He starts off pretty tentatively, but every game the fans see a little more of the player we know and love. Then, less than a month into the season The Bulls play The Portland Trailblazers (featuring Damian Lillard**)...
If you didn't watch that you really should. It exemplifies Rose's play as he was getting back into his rhythm. Explosive is really the only word that comes to mind here. Unfortunately, the second injury also showed up in the second half of that game. Derrick walks off the court limping, and finds out two days later he has a torn meniscus in his right knee (the opposite knee). So things are finally getting back to normal, and he gets knocked down again. I definitely get why people have a hard time being sympathetic for someone whose job it is to entertain others by playing a game (it's probably what we would all really like to do, deep down, be that game basketball or solitaire), but nonetheless professional athletes (and people with a lot of money in general), are human. They go through all the same psychological processes as the rest of us. For some reason they're expected to handle pressure better than an average person? Not sure why. How many people are awesome in every way? Um, none. They have to concentrate on being awesome at sports so maybe we could cut them a break. In Rose's case, can we accept even though his knee has healed, he may have reservations about the way he plays because of fear? Fear of reinjury, of losing his job, of being crippled one day?! 

So anyway, the dude is 26 now and he's back and things are looking good so far. Yet I watch The Bulls and Derrick Rose play basketball every other night and the commentary about the difference in his play is incessant. The answer to the question above: No. I don't think we as fans can accept less than awesome from our heroes. Still, fear is controlling the reality of the situation. Fear and logistics! Fear of re-injury and even more so, fear of the consequences of re-injury. Seriously, it could be the end of his career. In my opinion, it would be the end of his career, at least his career as he knows it. And more (most) importantly, imagine what that kind of loss would do to a person... to any person! Can you imagine working your whole life to be great at something, to have such high expectations for yourself (not to mention high expectations from others), and have that all disappear in one awkward landing? It would be like losing a loved one. Truly. I mean, I have been working on becoming a therapist for the past 3(ish) years, seven years total if you count my bachelor's. If suddenly all that progress was taken from me, or if I took a misstep and it was gone... I have no idea what I would do instead. I would be devastated. I would be lucky enough to go through it in private at least. Derrick Rose would spend everyday with the media in his face. People calling for interviews, to write articles and make documentaries about what could have been... which would quite literally be adding insult to injury.

So now not only is he doing what he can to play smart, safe, and protect himself from another injury but logistically, he's doing what's needed of him from his team. Before he was injured he was... a point guard... a shooting point guard, but really more than that. When I asked Patrick how he would describe the position Rose used to play he said: "I don't even know what you would call that. I would say scoring point guard but I feel like that's what he is now... He was super-human before he was hurt." Note: Patrick wasn't even a fan, in fact he was more of a critic until recently. Really though, Rose did everything.

In the two years he's been hurt The Bulls as a whole have made some additions, subtractions, and improvements all around. Most notably this season Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol. Both All-Stars and huge pick ups for the team. The thing of beauty here is because of this new wholeness, Rose is able to play more technically true to the point guard position. From what I've read he's more vocal, better at directing the team, and distributing the ball. He doesn't have to do all the scoring, but can still rally points if need be. Is he the same in terms of athleticism? No. His explosiveness shows itself here and there and I think with time we will see this more and more as he comes back into his comfort zone, but for now as fans we should appreciate his game for what it is and realize the position he plays now is exactly what The Bulls need from him. Who knows, maybe we will see the agile, acrobatic Derrick Rose of before, but until then maybe we can lay off and appreciate his current 20 point, 6.5 assist per game average.

Full stats here:

*Muggsy Bogues was 5'3" so maybe technically I could dunk?! Here's hopin!

**Post Script: Patrick suggested I start following Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. This suggestion makes me like him (Patrick) even more, because it's on point, he knows what he's talkin' 'bout. See for yourself:

Expect more on him before the season's over.

Fact checking by Ryan Finger

Derrick Rose. (2015). The website. Retrieved 02:28, Feb 13, 2015,    from
Greenstein, T. (Nov 2013). Derrick Rose Timeline: Bulls' Star's Early Highs Give Way to Recent Woes. Retrieved    from:

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