TELANDER: Chicago is Derrick Rose’s for the taking
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com | @ricktelander October 19, 2013 12:32AM
Seeing Derrick Rose back in top shape after his lost season reminds us of his long-term potential as a Chicago-bred legend. | Nam Y. Huh/AP
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:56AM
I am so happy to see Bulls guard Derrick Rose back playing on the United Center floor — even if it’s just the preseason — that I hope he never gets injured again.
His acceleration, his reckless drives to the basket, his ball-handling, his assists, his stone face, they all remind me of what we have missed for a year and a half. He looks better than ever, which is saying something. Even his three-point shot looks deadly.
May he now be able to fulfill his sporting legacy, which is this: to become a Chicago basketball hero, city-born, raised and trained, who leads the Bulls for years, wins crowns and steps at the very end — sated — into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
And then he lives out his life here, a gracious and revered icon.
What other Chicago athlete even comes close to the civic possibilities presented by Rose?
Ray Meyer? George Mikan? Kirby Puckett? Isiah Thomas? Jackie Joyner-Kersee? Chris Chelios? Dick Butkus? Nazr Mohammed?
No. If he stays here and does what is possible, Rose absolutely will stand alone.
◆ I don’t like the Washington Redskins nickname. I’ve always found it odd, a vestige from another age. And for years now, it has been flat-out offensive to many Native Americans who, believe it or not, still struggle to be taken seriously, casinos be damned.
I hope the name goes soon. It seems funny to me that the NBA’s Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards in 1997 because of the violent implications of bullets in a city with its share of shootings. Funny, because a bullet is an inert thing, a name, a noun, harmless unless fired. ‘‘Redskin’’ is a pejorative, a slur, harmful simply by being spoken.
Next, maybe we can work on the Cleveland Indians logo?
◆ I see that the World Anti-Doping Agency is launching an investigation of Jamaica’s drug-testing policies and policing before the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Those were the Games where Usain Bolt ruled in the men’s sprints and his countrymen were close behind.
Maybe nothing will come of the audit, but I may yet be vindicated for getting tongue-tied at a post-race news conference and asking Bolt about the integrity of the ‘‘Jamaican drug team.’’
◆ There’s a key moment of expression near the end of the new book League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, by the Fainaru brothers, Mark and Steve, and, ironically, it comes from another book. That one is an old one, Jim Otto: The Pain of Glory, written by incredibly battered former Raiders center Jim Otto.
In response to advisers who had told him he should sue the league for the damage done to him in his 17-year career, including his need to have a leg amputated above the knee, Otto wrote, ‘‘I’m not going to wimp out. Nobody told me I had to play every week. So I’m not going to sue my former team like other retired players. I’m simply not made that way. I take responsibility for everything that happened to my body.’’
Now that League of Denial has been written and numerous TV shows and documentaries have been produced, all showing the imminent and often lasting dangers of the pro game — with head trauma, especially, as the latest demon — I hope every NFL player does indeed know what he has signed up for.
He should also know—since it has been documented for decades without relief — that the NFL does not care about him as a human being but only as a product to be used for entertainment and revenue purposes. This is not news anymore.
If there is a player too ill-informed, illiterate, arrogant or disbelieving not to realize what lies in store for him, perhaps years down the road, if he engages in brutal contact football, I feel sorry for him. And I think at some point my sympathy — and everyone else’s — will dry up.
◆ Let’s have the last word here on the 10th anniversary of the Cubs’ shocking 2003 season and the ‘‘Steve Bartman Game’’ that propelled Cubs futility into an orbit that must have rocketed it past George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in ‘‘Gravity’’ and out to the edges of the universe by now.
You see, the thing was, everybody knew the Cubs would be back with a great team the next season and certainly would make it to the World Series in 2004. So forget 2003. Tragic, but over. That’s how it felt.
And the Cubs were good in 2004. And then again in 2007 and 2008. Just not good enough.
There, friends, is how time flies.