This summer, I met up with a sportswriter whom I had long admired. The subject of Derrick Rose came up. With a bewildered look on his face, he asked me “People hate Derrick Rose here (in Chicago )?? I told him, “Believe it or not, yeah. And it all happened so fast.”
Recently, Rose went “rogue” during the Bulls media presser by intimating that he’s thinking about his upcoming free agency status. He told to reporters this:
"Making sure that my family is financially stable -- as far as, you see all the money that they're passing out in this league, [I'm] just telling the truth, just knowing that my day will be coming up soon. It's not for me, it's for [son] P.J. and his future. so that's what I'm thinking about right now."
That didn’t go well with local media and fans.
How dare Rose talk about his future at work, while at work. The next day, he took an elbow at practice from teammate Taj Gibson. Rose sustained a left orbital fracture. According to team officials, Rose will be out for two weeks.
Social media, per usual, went in on him:
Derrick Rose hurt again? This is the worst thing to happen to him since... pic.twitter.com/UE3RH8Rtof— Kansas Jayhawk Fans (@FansOfKU) September 30, 2015
There is a certain irony in Derrick Rose getting his face broken in the Bulls' first post-Thibs practice.— RUSS BENGT$ON (@russbengtson) September 30, 2015
The Bulls paid Derrick Rose $52.8 million for the last 3 seasons in which he missed 75% of the team's games.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 30, 2015
Other observers saw something clandestine in the criticism:
I only need to remember Dan Bernstein's reaction to D. Rose's "I Can't Breathe" shirt to immediately discredit every opinion he's ever had.— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) September 30, 2015
This town has rooted for some real questionable characters because they won and played. Just say that's what you want & stop the foolishness— Jason Goff (@Jason1Goff) September 30, 2015
The ONE thing I’ve never quite understood about the Rose saga in Chicago is why reporters ran stories on anything his brother said?— BC (@MrCraw4D) September 30, 2015
Most Chicagoans will always love Rose no matter what. He’s been in the local spotlight since he was in the seventh grade. He also played for one the country’s most storied high school basketball programs in Simeon High School. After all, we look at Rose as the local kid who made good. His popularity among Chicagoans from different races and backgrounds, only rivals Michael Jordan and Walter Payton historically. For instance, the part of the city I live in, is mostly populated by African-Americans and Latinos. Based on the jerseys I’ve seen people wear, the two most popular athletes in this part of the South Side were soccer player Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Rose.
Rose was a star coming out of Memphis, doing so well right out of the gate that he historically outperformed his rookie contract. The NBA even had to impose a “Fifth Year 30% Max Rule.” According to league guidelines, a player still on his rookie deal can collect the 30 percent max on his next deal if he meets one of the following incentives: Named to the All-NBA first, second or third team two times, being voted an All-Star starter two times or being named regular-season MVP one time.
Rose qualified because he became league MVP while still on his rookie contract. Shows how nice he was, fans responding and showering him with love.
After his first injury, Rose even got the benefit of a doubt that Bears QB Jay Cutler never got after the NFC Championship game when his toughness was questioned. Those questions still linger to this day. But somewhere along the way, Rose became the living embodiment of America’s warped view of how someone ought to come up. Fans and media often don’t see the work players like Rose put in to get themselves in a situation where they acquire generational wealth for playing just a “game.”
At this point in time, the hate, or the ridicule, towards Rose has come from three narratives: Generational, cultural, or racial. Older NBA fans say if he was ready to go, he should play as they made questionable juxtapositions with other pro athletes who had similar injuries. Some saw a photo of Rose in his Rolls Royce after the Bulls were bounced from the playoffs and they became instant members of the player haters clubs. He somehow became a symbol of the laziness, selfishness and excessive greed wealth breeds. And some folks see Black athletes like Rose showing off their opulence and proceed to think the worst about them. After all, Malcolm X once said: “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
On multiple occasions, the former NBA MVP has given local media and bloggers all they needed to systematically change his public standing. In a three year period, Rose’s rep went from a humble kid to a selfish superstar.
Bryan Crawford, of NBA.com’s “Hoop Magazine,” recently wrote a great column that sums up the last three years of Rose’s experience with local fans and media:
"Local media attacked him on every front, essentially causing the fan base to fully turn against him. All of a sudden, Derrick Rose was not only pegged as being damaged goods, but mentally weak and not a leader. A guy who only thought about himself and had no problem watching his teammates gut it out through injury while he was content to sit in a suit and watch from the bench, all while still cashing multimillion dollar checks.
And through it all, Derrick heard it all. He tried to take the high road when asked about his health and when he would play again those three seasons, but he absolutely knew what was being said about him and who was saying it. He knew exactly who his detractors and supporters were in the media."
(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
When Black athletes have historically spoken up for themselves, the dog whistle rhetoric spewed by media and talking heads would make Republican presidential candidates blush. After all, where are all these people when our elected officials vote pay raises for themselves? If anything the people who hate on Rose for being rich would call themselves capitalists in any other circumstance.
Thanks to “The Decision” and how LeBron James left Miami to go back to Cleveland, we’ve already seen how nasty the vitriol can be when fans and media turn their back on someone they once regarded as one of their own.
This isn’t the first time Chicago sports fans thought a ballyhooed phenom or two, would lead them to the promised land. In this case two young pitchers put the Cubs on the brink of making the World Series for the first time since 1945. Back in 2003, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were supposed to lead the Cubs to postseason glory.
Even though both players had multiple injuries like Rose, ultimately, Prior and Wood never received the same type of hate. Maybe that’s because their struggles happened pre-social media. After all, Wood continues to have a visible presence around town so that means fans may have forgiven him. Rose may not be so lucky.
Ultimately, I’m not sure what fans and media want from Rose. He’s rich and he can spend his money however he likes. However, the three layers of vitriol I mentioned earlier may cause him to look for greener pastures. From what I’ve seen from fans and media since last night, plenty of folks would gladly help him pack.