Derrick Rose broke his face.
To be more accurate: Derrick Rose fractured his left orbital bone.
But Derrick Rose broke his face.
I instantly knew what to expect. Not from the injury. That’s the sort of thing that can have a fairly wide range of recovery time. Anywhere from ten days to eight weeks. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of Rose’s response either. Guys take injuries in different ways and we all know that Derrick has been through it all.
But I knew what to expect on the internet. This hallowed place that allows people to instantly communicate across the globe. Allows so many jobs to be possible. And allows us to showcase the worst in people, almost always shown behind the cowardly curtains of anonymity. And sure enough, the internet NBA community, a place I love most of the year, has turned into yet another dreadful showcase of D Rose hating.
Rose has been called many things. The uncreative ‘Made of Glass’. Weak. A bitch. Injury prone. Unmanly.
But before we get into what names are most appropriate for Rose, we should discuss human anatomy. Most people haven’t spent a significant amount of time studying it, but it doesn’t take a PhD to know that getting an elbow to the face from a teammate has nothing to do with a knee injury that came from a hard landing on a hardwood floor. You probably know that, but what you may not know is just how hard an elbow to the face has to be to break an orbital bone.1
Obviously different bones take different amounts of force to break. A pinky is going to break easier than a tibia. But a safe average for an orbital bone is somewhere around 3,000 newtons of force. Or to put that in a different way, 674 pounds-force. I realize those numbers may not mean much, so how about a comparison? A 150 grain, 30 cal bullet (the sort you would shoot a deer or even an elk with) exerts roughly 5000 newtons of force upon impact. So the elbow to Rose’s face was just more than half of what would sink a foot into an elk. The same amount of force that hit Rose would cause a 3,300 pound car to get from 0 to 25 mph in about 5 seconds. The same amount of force that hit Rose would be close to a 150 mph fastball. The same amount of force that hit Rose’s face would absolutely destroy most people, and would break their face, injury prone or not.2
And guess what? Rose is going to be back. He’s going to play again. He’s likely going to play in the season opener, missing no important time at all. Yet somehow this still is being used to highlight his supposed “softness”.
Russ and Rose are fun because aside from the ACL they've had basically the exact same injuries but one is considered fragile, the other God.
— Brian Schroeder (@Cosmis) September 29, 2015
Schroeder isn’t wrong. There are certain players that have become fun for people to vilify or mock. There’s a wide array of reasons why, but that’s just the way it is. People like Kevin Durant and hate on Blake Griffin. People like Marc Gasol and hate on Chris Bosh. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. It’s just the way things are, and there really isn’t any legitimate reason for it.
It would be fair to criticize a player who’s injury prone if they weren’t taking the time and putting in the work to get fit before the season. If someone pulls a muscle since they didn’t properly prepare their muscles, then yes, they’re fair game for scrutiny. But when someone injures a body part in a freak accident, they’re simply not at fault. You can ask Paul George. Or ask Kevin Love. Or ask D-Rose.
I haven’t even talked about the rubbish clickbait articles that are written by media outlets that are supposed to be reputable. The worst instance is the insistence by certain reporters on calling Rose dumb and attacking his character.3 Yes, Rose didn’t take his standardized tests to go to college. No, he wasn’t going to college to be a student. That’s a conversation for another day, but again, he’s criticized for something that doesn’t relate to his play on the court or competitiveness.
So often players are knocked for using “coach speak” in interviews. The good majority of press conferences are boring and bland, with nothing of substance being said at all. When Derrick Rose brings up that he’d like to still be able walk when his son graduates, he’s destroyed in the public eye. When Steph Curry brings his daughter to the press conference, he’s a hero dad. Where does that make sense in any way?
Derrick Rose isn’t above criticism. No one is. Feel free to criticize his efforts at evolving his game. It’s fair to question whether the Bulls should really build around a guy who’s had trouble staying on the court over the last few years. But I can’t tolerate using an instance when someone’s body is breaking down on them as an excuse for mocking them and questioning their character. You’re better than that, people.
Thankfully, some quality, intelligent articles have found their way through the haze of crap surrounding the Derrick Rose conversation. Tim Baffoe took a moment to think before writing for the Cauldron, and it paid off. And of course, one of the best pieces of sportswriting in the past decade, this article from October 2014 by Wright Thompson.
In the end though, it doesn’t matter. Rose is a kid from Englewood who made it out. Regardless of what happens with his next payday or his knee or his jumpshot, he’s already made a far better life for himself than he would’ve had on the South Side of Chicago. He’s won. So maybe he isn’t that unlucky after all.
I know that might sound like a ridiculous amount of force for a human elbow to apply, but think about how much mass is on the arms of one of the bigs on the Bulls. And think about how much acceleration can be applied at the point of impact if the hit is just right. ↩
I’ve linked that article through an archive site since I don’t believe in spreading hits to columns like that. ↩