It annoys me that I’m even writing about the idiotic “controversy” that has surrounded Derrick Rose for the past few days, but considering people won’t stop talking about it, there doesn’t seem to be any other option.
First, the context. The following is what Rose said about missing games this season.
I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long-term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to. I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.
Nothing there caused me to even give it a second glance when I first read that quote. Of course he’s trying to take care of himself. He has missed the last two years of basketball due to knee injuries. He’s had people questioning whether he’ll ever be able to play at a high level again. He wants to be able to play at a high level when he plays, and not be in a wheelchair when his career is over. Duh.
Yet somehow this has become a controversy. It’s become cause to question his commitment to the franchise. It’s become cause to question his competitive fire (I’m not going to link to the articles that include those claims, since I don’t believe in sending nonsense like that traffic). None of those questions are anything other than hogwash. He can’t be committed to the franchise if he’s on the sidelines, and he can’t be competitive on the court if he’s in street clothes. Last year Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli both played in less than 70 games and no one on the Spurs played more than 30 minutes per game. But in that case no one questions their competitiveness, instead it’s considered a smart decision for the team’s future. Which it is. Just like Rose’s decision is a smart one for his, and the Bulls’ future.
We’re living in a world where the most popular sports league (in a way that’s still baffling to me) is the NFL. The NFL has past players suing because of head injuries sustained when they played and the league is watering down the contact by beefing up the rules in order to keep players healthy. Yet those same people who still watch the NFL and love it want to question Rose’s competitiveness because he’s looking out for his future.
Today, Rose spoke to reporters outside of the Air Canada Centre and apologized for nothing. He said he’s going to keep trying to inspire others, care for himself and remain positive. Much of the sporting world, and almost all of the sports media, could learn a thing or two from that outlook.