MORRISSEY: Derrick Rose says he’s 100 percent, but critics persist
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org July 15, 2013 11:00PM
New York Knicks v Chicago Bulls
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:35AM
If Derrick Rose was hoping to break news Monday, he should have announced he wouldn’t be ready for next season. Can you imagine the uproar? The number of self-immolations among angry talk-show hosts would have soared. Hmmm.
Instead, Rose announced in Spain that he’ll be ready for the Bulls’ first practice, their first exhibition game, their first real game and, presumably, their first how-to-fire-your-agent-and-hire-Jay-Z team-building seminar. I was under the impression all these things were givens, but I guess that’s why we’re going to have to start calling him ‘‘Scoop’’ from now on.
For the record, Rose’s non-news is good news. He said he feels 100 percent healthy, and we can assume he feels as close as he can to 100 percent confident in his surgically repaired left knee.
‘‘[Mentally] I’m just strong as I’ve been,’’ he said at an Adidas event. ‘‘I had the time to think about what’s important in my life, getting better on the court, watching a lot of film with [coach Tom Thibodeau], asking him questions, talking to him about two times a week. . . . So he’s been kind of a professor to me.’’
If I had been advising Rose, I would have told him about a month ago not to say anything more about his situation. Every time he opens his mouth, it gives the people who thought he was selfish for sitting out last season another chance to rip him. What followed Monday was the predictable piling-on. We get it, people. You’re mad he didn’t play last season. You’re mad he didn’t play last season. It’s amazing how much that starts to sound like an unattended car alarm after awhile.
You’d be amazed at what moving on can do for your sense of serenity.
The only way Rose can win is by lacing up his shoes and finally getting out on the court in a real game. There’s no other way. The idea that he thinks he’s fully healed, although good to hear, was fully expected. Very few people cut him slack for sitting out last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But there was no doubt in anyone’s mind he would come back healthy for next season.
There are milestones to pass in his recovery, and I imagine part of Rose’s recent chattiness stems from that. He’s feeling better about himself. His recent revelation that his knee wasn’t strong enough to handle a double team during regular-season practices was meaningful, and the fact that he talked about it 10 days ago meant he finally can handle one now. After a year of difficulty, he’s seeing results. He’d like the world to know, which is great. But every time he talks, his detractors pounce.
Thibodeau is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA. Even though he hasn’t won a title with the Bulls, the city has embraced his all-business demeanor. But when Thibodeau said publicly that Rose had earned the benefit of the doubt and shouldn’t be criticized for taking a year off, few people around here listened. Thibodeau was portrayed as a house organ, mindlessly repeating what his bosses told him to say.
The idea that Rose could be ready in July and not be ready in April is beyond some people’s ability to comprehend. I didn’t know there was a scheduled date for when he would feel ready to go.
And here I see I’ve fallen into the trap. A story about Rose’s readiness for next season has turned into a column about the stupid abuse he has taken for being methodical in his comeback. A story that stated the obvious — that Rose would be back next season — has turned into another round of haymakers between the people who think he’s selfish and the people who wonder how anyone could question his heart.
I can’t wait for the season to begin. I fully expect the people who are furious with Rose to show up at the United Center with signs letting him know how they feel, even as he scores 30 points. I’ve never seen this much anger directed at someone in sports who hasn’t been accused of a crime. So it’s only right that his critics don’t let up on him all season, if not for the rest of his career.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Derrick, keep the ‘‘breaking news’’ to yourself. From now on, let your game speak for itself. It’ll hush the crowd.