In a wide-ranging interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Derrick Rose talks about his love for the game of basketball and how he thinks most people in his position would have retired from the game a long time ago.
“I am in year 11 now. I tore my ACL in my fourth year,” Rose said. “Most guys would have been retired. Financially, I have saved my money. It’s all about the love. I still feel like I can hoop.”
By now, everyone knows Derrick Rose’s story. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft out of Memphis and became a superstar before any of us could even blink. He played for his hometown Chicago Bulls and put on a show every night at the United Center. Rose won the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year award and matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record with 36 points in his playoff debut, adding 11 assists to lead the Bulls to a 105-103 overtime victory over the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series.
In his second season, Rose became the first Bull since Michael Jordan to make the All-Star team. He averaged 20.8 points and 6.0 assists per game. It was in his third year in the NBA, however, when Rose made history and became a legend. Rose won the MVP award in 2011, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the award. He was only 22-years-old. The Chicago native led the Bulls to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rose and the Bulls lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games in the Conference Finals, but Rose looked destined for countless battles with James for Eastern Conference supremacy. But we all know what tragically happened in the 2012 playoffs.
Derrick Rose tore his left ACL in Game 1 of the first-round against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls lost the series in six games and Rose missed the entire following season. James won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat, while Rose was forced to sit and watch his dream of bringing a championship back home to Chicago drift further and further away.
When Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, fans in Chicago started to turn on him. He was medically cleared to return by doctors from his ACL injury, but Rose never felt comfortable to step back on the court and decided to sit out.
“Even the people that were mad at me, they were mad at me because they wanted to see me hoop,” Rose said. “I understand that. You’re mad because I play some type of way that you like seeing and you want to see me out there. But I am going to do what is best for myself and sit out a year to get healthy enough to step on the court.
“You have to know who you are. This whole time off or even getting injured, it was my way of tapping out. A lot of people don’t get the chance to tap out [and recover], and they get caught up into the propaganda. Winning MVP so young, doing this and doing that, I was caught in it.”
The Bulls eventually gave up on Derrick Rose after he suffered two more knee injuries, trading him to the New York Knicks after the 2015-16 season. As the third option in a flawed offensive system, Rose averaged 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game on 47.1 percent shooting from the field with the Knicks. He shot a career-high 87.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Rose’s scoring average of 18.0 was his highest since he suffered the ACL injury. After missing nearly two years of basketball — sat out 2012 season (ACL), played 10 games in 2013 (right meniscus) — Rose regained his touch near the basket. He shot 55.7 percent on shots at the rim with New York and dazzled fans all season with acrobatic layups. Rose ranked fourth in the NBA in points off of drives — scoring 8.2 a game.
But Rose missed a game with New York when he left for Chicago to be with his mom. Rose didn’t tell the Knicks and he was fined. He then suffered another knee injury in April which required surgery. Rose has undergone four knee surgeries, two on each knee.
Derrick Rose began last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but wasn’t a good fit next to LeBron. After getting traded by the Cavs to the Utah Jazz at the 2018 February trade deadline, the Jazz waived Rose, allowing him to sign with Minnesota for the rest of the season.
Rose was minimally used in the nine regular-season games he played with Minnesota. He posted 5.8 points in about 12 minutes per game. Rose’s role, however, changed during the playoffs and he delivered in a big way.
The explosive guard averaged 14.2 points while shooting an efficient 50.9 percent from the field and 70 percent from three in his five postseason games, playing 24 minutes a contest. Rose showed off that quick first step and league scouts continue to marvel at his elite ability to get to the rim at will and finish in heavy traffic — even after enduring four knee surgeries.
“I am just rolling with the punches,” said Rose. “I know the hard work I put into everything. So, while I’m there, I am taking the role of being a leader to these young guys, being an example and maintaining my happiness.
“I am going to run with any opportunity. That is my goal. Get back in, and anything that comes my way I am going to grab it. I have no time to be feeling spiteful. I don’t want to say, ‘Look at me’ or ‘Look at what they did.’ I don’t have no time for that. What I am doing right now is history in my own world.
“If I wasn’t playing like I am right now, I could have went back home to my family chilling, because I am good financially. I was able to stay strong and focus. There are little kids looking at me, and my son is looking at me. I have to be an example for my son for times when he gets older and he’s bitching and complaining about what is going on. I don’t want to hear it. Go look at my résumé and handle what you have to handle. That is what I want from my kids.”
Rose scored 16 points against the Golden State Warriors in the Timberwolves’ first preseason game. He started in place of Jimmy Butler, who has requested a trade. Rose shot 6-of-10 from the field, 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Derrick Rose’s determination and hard work should be appreciated. This is a man who has been through hell and back four times now. But he keeps getting back up, for the love of the game.