Let’s travel back in time. It was October 2009 and Derrick Rose was playing his first regular season game since winning Rookie of the Year. An ankle injury forced him to miss the preseason. Still, expectations were high.
Rose opened the season with pedestrian stats. His game looked rusty. A rookie point guard torched him. Sound familiar?
Some fans questioned him. Had we expected too much from a 21-year-old who looked like a franchise savior? Maybe that 36-point outburst against the Celtics in the playoffs was a mirage. Maybe this Brandon Jennings character and his 55-point games were the real deal.
In his first three games Rose finished 13, 10 and 8 points.
Rose wasn’t the same player.
You know what happened next. Since the start of that 2009 season, Rose has won an MVP, been named to three All-Star Games and has become one of the faces of the NBA.
So maybe we just expected too much from Rose in his latest return from injury. His dazzling preseason reminded us of the skill set so few players possess. But since then he’s produced more turnovers than assists. He’s not finishing at the basket. He’s not creating shots for his teammates and he’s not making teams respect his long-range J. With the exception of one game-winning shot, Rose has looked bad, really bad.
Back to that 2009 season. After that shaky start four years ago, Rose told the media he wouldn’t cut his hair until he started playing better. Do you remember Derrick Rose looking shaggy? Me neither. It’s because Rose shook off his rust and corrected his flaws until his game was back at peak form.
The spotlight on Rose is brighter this time. Expectations are higher. Other than LeBron, he carries a greater burden than any player in the league, including Kobe. After all, if Kobe retired tomorrow, his legacy would be set. He’s already a champion and already one of the greatest ever to play the game.
Rose is so much more to Chicago than just an MVP. He’s our MVP. More important, he’s got a busload of unfinished business.
He knows it, too.
The people who are panicking about Rose now are the same people who thought Brandon Jennings would turn out to be a better point guard. They’re the same people who bashed him for not returning last season. I wonder if Rose would have looked rusty in the playoffs last year with no preseason. I guess we’ll never know!
No one remembers Rose’s 2009 struggles because they were a meaningless blip.
People will forget the challenges Rose is facing now the same way they’ll forget the Heat’s early struggles. Rose will return to his MVP form, and it won’t take long. Once he does, Bulls fans won’t need to worry about Rose anymore. The rest of the league will.