Taking a Look at Both Sides of the Derrick Rose Debate

November 3, 2018

 Derrick Rose after scoring a career-high 50 points (h/t: USA Today)


   There are two sides to every story. I'm going to do my best to fairly represent both sides in the case of the extremely polarizing NBA star, Derrick Rose.


    Chicago, IL- It's April 28, 2012. Derrick Rose, reigning MVP of the National Basketball Association, the youngest to ever win the award, just got helped off the court with barely a minute left to play in the first game of a playoff series with the Philadelphia 76ers.


   The injury later turned out to be more serious than it looked. Derrick Rose had torn his ACL. The Bulls lost that series as a 1-seed, and Rose was done for at least the next eight months.


   It turned out to be more than that, as Rose ended up sitting the entirety of the next season, despite being cleared to play in March of 2013.


   After making his return in the 2013-2014 season, Rose tore his meniscus just one month in, and was done for the season. The following season, Rose needed yet another surgery on his right knee, for further meniscus issues. 


   Rose went to the Knicks prior to the 2016-'17 season, where he sought a fresh start, away from his injury-torn past in Chicago. On April 2, 2017, he tore his left meniscus, an injury that required a fourth knee surgery. 


   Derrick Rose went from making more than $20 million a year, to making just $2.1 million with the Cleveland Cavaliers just one year later. He was traded to the Jazz that same year, and was consequentially released, which became the all-time low point in his career. 


   However, for Rose, it wasn't the money that bothered him. (although I'm sure he wouldn't have minded the extra 18 million dollars he was making in New York with the Knicks.) To Rose, it was the hit his reputation as a basketball player took, and worse still, the fact that he wasn't playing the way he knew he could play.


   D Rose had remained a free agent for nearly an entire month, when he was signed by former coach with the Bulls, Tom Thibodeau, who is now head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves.


   Whether Thibodeau took pity on Rose, or whether he expected to get serious production out of him, no one really knows. Despite that, it was working out fine for both parties through the end of the 2017-'18 season, and the beginning of this season. That was until Halloween.


   Minneapolis, MN- It's now October 31, 2018. Regular starting point guard, Jeff Teague, is out of the game with a bruised knee. Derrick Rose steps in to the starting spot for the first time this season, and proceeds to go off for a career-high 50 points. All this after telling Dennis Scott of NBATV that his goal for the season is to become Sixth Man of the Year, vowing to make a comeback.


   After he hit the free throw that got him to 50, watchers could see Rose, with tears in his eyes, go to the bench for a quick huddle, wipe his tears, and get back on the court. He had taken the first step in bringing back "Vintage D Rose".


The Backlash


  The 50-point performance by Derrick Rose was met with skepticism from many, all of whom referenced his 2016 court case, in which he and two of his friends were accused of having raped his former girlfriend. 


   There were a number of issues with Rose's defense, discrepancies that left me wondering, although he was (possibly) rightfully cleared of rape, how he wasn't charged with some other form of sexual assault/harassment charges.


   Easily the two most prominent of the eye-catching moments in the court transcripts are when Rose explicitly admitted that no, he does not know what consent is, and when he responded "No." to the question of if he believed that text messages between him and his accuser could have led him to believe that the "plaintiff wanted to have sex" with him and his friends. 


   In other words, Rose admitted to, if nothing else, pressuring his unwilling girlfriend in to engaging in intercourse with him and two friends.


   And yet, he was acquitted by a jury of his peers. He was acquitted by two men and six women who could not believe that their favourite player, or their son or daughter's favourite player, or their spouse's favourite player, or their parents' favourite player, could do something like that. And so, he was acquitted, not by a jury of his peers, but a jury of his fans.


The Celebration


   I get it. I really do get it. If not for that one pesky court case, it would be nearly impossible not to love Derrick Rose.


He was the NBA Rookie of the Year.

He was the NBA's youngest-ever Most Valuable Player.

He was one of the most explosive young players to ever step on the court.

He had not one, not two, but three season-ending injuries, and countless other injuries that caused month-long or more absences.

He then rebounded from that tough stretch to score a career-high 50 points for the coach with whom he became both ROY and MVP.


   I get why you love Derrick Rose. 


The Truth


   The honest truth of the matter is that you can't separate an athlete's personal life from their life on the court, rink, or field. 


   Despite that truth, judges and juries have been doing just that, showing clear bias in favour of athletes, since before time, shown most clearly in the cases of Ray Rice (who received a much lesser sentence than he deserved) and Kobe Bryant (who settled and was not charged). 


  While I appreciate Rose's accomplishments, and am genuinely impressed by his perseverance, I do believe that there will always be an asterisk on his career, in the form of his 2016 rape charges, and rightfully so.


















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