I’ll never forget the first time I saw the greatness of Derrick Rose on display.
The 2009 playoffs. The Chicago Bulls take on the reigning defending Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics didn’t have Kevin Garnett in that series because of an injury, but they still had Paul Pierce and Ray Allen at the height of their powers.
The Bulls had a bunch of weirdos. They had Joakim Noah, who was an annoying hipster goofball. They had Tyrus Thomas, whom the Bulls traded acquired on draft day in exchange for LaMarcus Aldridge. They also had Ben Gordon, who only had one skillset: shoot.
The Bulls had no chance in this series. But they had Derrick Rose, making the Playoffs in his rookie season.
And my God, he was absolutely breathtaking.
The Bulls lost this series. But I didn’t care. I knew that Derrick was going to be a superstar. And it was only a matter of time.
He proved me right in the coming years: the 2010-2011 MVP award a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to the Miami Heat. It was a painful loss to swallow, but I could rest in the knowledge that this was only the beginning of several wars between LeBron’s posse and Derrick Rose. Eventually they would break through and conquer. It was only a matter of time.
Little did I know that the only time he was playing with was borrowed time.
I’ll never forget the first time Derrick Rose tore his ACL.
I’ll never forget when Derrick Rose missed the entire season after.
I’ll never forget when Derrick Rose tore his MCL and forced himself to play through it.
I’ll never forget coming to the realization that Derrick Rose lost the athleticism that made him such an incredible player.
I’ll never forget understanding that Rose would never be the same again.
When Derrick was traded to the New York Knicks, I made my peace with it. After all, he wanted more money, and a fresh start after a city and a fanbase that was continuously left heartbroken and devastated by his and his team’s failures. But to a certain extent, I was still cheering him on. If he would be able to reinvent himself and become a stud with the Knicks, then good for him. I’d be happy to see him still continue his career.
Who is this guy? And more importantly, how did it get to this?
And to top it all of, Derrick Rose is now a Cavalier. He’s on the Cleveland Cavaliers, playing alongside the tormentor and haunter of all Chicago Bulls fans since hope arrived in 2008.
Derrick Rose. The guy who wouldn’t recruit or even talk to LeBron during the free agent bonanza in 2010. The guy who was engaged in feuds Playoff series after Playoff series goes to his biggest Eastern Conference rival at his peak.
Fans will laugh at Derrick Rose. They’ll make their jokes, mostly about him being injured all the time (even though he’s been surprisingly durable for the past few seasons), and how he still can’t shoot from distance. How going from Kyrie Irving to Derrick Rose means the end of Cleveland’s reign at the Eastern Conference summit.
That might all be true. But this means something different to me, and all Bulls fans. It means the end of everything we hoped for, believed in, and dreamed of having in Derrick Rose. It signifies the humanity, failure and perhaps even stupidity of putting Rose on a pedestal, especially when we learned that the pedestal was creaky, and so quickly broken in half.
Never did we believe that Rose would become a Cavalier. And now that he will become one, things will never, ever, be the same.
We’ll always have 2008-2011. Those were the years that Chicago Bulls believers saw a Rose blooming before our eyes. Never did we see anything that beautiful. Never did we anticipate the future because of what we were seeing in the present.
But the shelf life of any rose is short and fleeting. Just like Rose. And now what remains, that which will take the floor in the upcoming NBA season to bow to a King’s will, is a wilting shadow of what could have been.