October 4th, 1988: Derrick Martell Rose is born in the city of Chicago. Being the youngest brother of four, Derrick was heavily protected throughout his entire life. His older brothers: Dwayne, Reggie, and Alan, made sure that the rising star in basketball was always safe. The brothers truly were his “protectors” as they went to basketball practices with him and dropped him off and picked him up from school everyday. As Rose’s success continued to climb, the brothers’ protection only strengthened and tightened. It’s funny to think about all of this early life information about the 2011 MVP when at the time, no one knew how much potential this young man had. No one knew what he could and would become. Rose would eventually be an inspiration to all Chicago kids and lovers of basketball in general (including myself) due to all of the hardship that he had to go through to get to where he was. This piece is dedicated to all of those who truly love Derrick Rose as a man and as a player, and to show how remarkable his rise in basketball was to the league, to the world, and to the sport itself.
Coming out of Simeon Academy, Rose was clearly if not the best, one of the best point guards in the country, and his scholarship to Memphis was a testament to that. Rose stood (and still does to this day) at six feet and three inches, not very tall for a basketball player, but he had a 40 inch vertical. If you don’t believe me when I say that Rose had the best hops (jumping ability) in the nation, just watch this video (1:36-2:01). Please take in mind… HE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL!! The point is, he was already such a talented basketball player at the age of 18 years old and everyone had such high hopes for the young man at such a young age. Eventually, Rose led Memphis to the National Championship where he and the Tigers lost to the Kansas Jayhawks. Although Rose’s one and done Freshman season didn’t end the way he wanted it to, his talent with the basketball eventually led him to the 2008 NBA draft, where he was drafted 1st overall by the Chicago Bulls. Rose was now heading back home to Chicago, his hometown city, where his career and his entire life would change forever.
Everyone knew that Derrick was special by the time he landed back in Chicago. Everyone understood that he was the Bulls’ future and that the franchise had to build around him in order to be a contender. Rose’s rookie year could not have gone any better in my opinion. Rose averaged 16.8 ppg along with 6.3 apg, eventually earning him Rookie of the Year (ROY) for the 2009 NBA season. Not only that, but the Bulls forced seven games against the defending champions (Boston Celtics) in a series that is regarded as one of the best playoff series of all time that even Kevin Harlan agrees with (52:33-52:41). The Bulls had missed the playoffs the year before, and their amazing 2009 playoff run proved that the Bulls were on the rise and looking to turn some heads over the next few seasons. The next year, the Bulls made the playoffs again but this time, against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously, the Bulls had an early exit as they were defeated in five games, but these two years of postseason behavior would prove to be worth it. The year was now 2011, and the young Rose would finally fulfill his destiny for his city.
Lots of things occurred during the 2010 NBA offseason. Lebron James took his talents to South Beach and created the “Big Three” with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant earned a contract extension, and under the radar, some of the biggest transactions happened as well. The Bulls were unable to sign Lebron during the offseason, but they were able to sign a great power forward in Carlos Boozer and a great shooter in Kyle Korver. Along with developing players like C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik, Rose and the rest of the roster would flourish. Rose came out firing with his acrobatic finishes around the basket, his power driving through the lane, his exceptional court vision, and his all-around power when it came to slamming it down. Rose was the fan-favorite of 2011 and his play put the Bulls back on the map with the Lakers and Heat. His continuous success eventually landed Rose the league’s MVP of 2011 and the honor of calling himself the youngest MVP in NBA history. Although Rose won the MVP in 2011 and finished with season averages of 25.0 ppg along with 7.7 apg, his effort was no match for the superteam of the Miami Heat. The Bulls fell to James and the Heat in 5 games and Rose’s MVP year had come to an end, but his legacy is still here today.
Flashing forward to the current day, Rose is one of the biggest what-ifs in sports history. Rose eventually went on to tear his ACL in the 2012 playoffs along with three meniscus tears in the 2014, 2015, and 2017 seasons. Although the man has become very injury-prone, all fans of the NBA should give him respect for continuing to battle through the setbacks and play the game that he loves. Most players would call it a career after two major injuries, yet Rose continues to play through more than 4 major knee injuries (ankles, orbital fracture, etc.). Regardless, Rose is still relevant in the league and his career is still hopeful. That being said, I know that Rose will never be the same player that we all once knew from 2011, but I still have hope that he can guide another team to the playoffs and have success in this league.
Whether you agree with me or not is not important because everyone has their own opinions. I just hope that there are still fans of basketball that respect and care about Derrick Rose, because as a player and as a man, he was always very modest, humble, and caring. He is by far my favorite athlete of all time. If you don’t like him as a player, that’s perfectly fine, just don’t boo him when he comes back to Chicago (yes, I’m talking to you Bulls fans). You can joke all you want about his knees, but it will never get him to quit, and I think that the resilience he demonstrates is truly remarkable. 2011 was the year Derrick Rose stood by his name and rose to the top (funny, I know), but today, he still demonstrates his athleticism and quickness that we once saw barely six years ago. No matter how many more injuries the man suffers from, we will always remember the pure athleticism that once thrived within Derrick Rose. His play at 22 years old will forever be an inspiration to all lovers and players of basketball, and the year 2011 will always be remembered as the year that Derrick Rose brought Chicago Basketball back to life.