“I worked my ass off bro”
When Derrick Rose dropped a career-high 50 points on the Utah Jazz this Thursday, those were his words in the post-game interview.
He was clearly choked up and emotional throughout the interview, following the amazing performance.
But it was more than that. He went through a lot.
A Rough Childhood
Rose, nicknamed ‘Pooh’ by his grandmother, grew up in the South Side of Chicago - a neighbourhood notable as one of the most dangerous in the U.S.
His mother Brenda, singlehandedly raised the family of 5 on multiple jobs.
Thankfully, with the help of his brothers and strong mother, Rose carried this family on his back, much like he does with his basketball teams.
His brothers helped him stay grounded amidst his basketball hype and handled his college process.
And it wasn’t long before he made it into the NBA.
The Lucky Rookie
It was out of sheer luck, or conspiracy theorist may argue, that his hometown team Chicago Bulls landed the No. 1 pick to draft him in 2008.
And, a star was born.
Rose proved himself the saviour of a teetering franchise at the fence of lottery and playoffs from the get-go.
The undoubted Rookie of the Year candidate went on to show out in his playoff debut, netting a stat line of 36-11-4.
Although they were eliminated from the playoffs by the then defending champions Celtics, you get the feeling that Rose was something special.
Despite a preseason ankle injury, Rose slowly worked his way into the season and helped the Bulls make the playoffs with a 41-41 record.
They were eventually eliminated by a Lebron-led Cavaliers in 5 games, bringing his second postseason to a quick end.
After being eliminated, Rose knew that he had to step up his game if he wanted to bring the Bulls to greater heights.
That offseason, he started working on his 3-point jump shot, a missing tool in his game and helped lead USA to a FIBA championship.
In the meantime, the Bulls’ front office began making big moves to prepare for the upcoming season.
But still, no one expected what happened in the season that followed.
“Why Can’t I Be The MVP?”
During the next season’s training camp, Rose was asked about his confidence level and his answer became the definition of the upcoming season.
In just his 3rd year, Rose burst out of the gates from the get-go.
He went on to become a starting guard for 2011 NBA All-Star Team, swept the star-studded Miami Heat in the regular season and led the Bulls to a league-leading 62-20 record.
He was the only player in the top 10 for points and assists, carried more than 70% of the Bulls’ offense, with a team of lacklustre offensive weapons.
Rose went on to become the youngest player to receive the MVP award heading into the postseason.
But there were doubters, with claims of voter fatigue for Lebron James leading to the result of the awarding.
The Bulls’ eventual elimination by the Miami Heat in the postseason certainly did not help matters.
This started a disturbing trend of Rose’s career.
A second year with the new core group in the upstart Bulls gave many fans hope of a championship.
But the dreams quickly wilted away, when Rose went down in the 1st game of the postseason against the Philadephia 76ers.
An entire city and Rose’s fanbase held their breath.
It’s going to be okay. He is a tough kid.
The eventual announcement of the tear of his ACL brought the entire franchise to its knees.
ACL tears were no joke. Many players career trajectory changed because of an injury like this.
Many doubted if Rose would ever return to the court the same player as the one that left.
Just like that, the trend continued.
The Return Part I, II, III….
In the coming seasons, Rose’s return became a talking point.
Despite the great offseason rehabilitation he had, Rose’s injuries began to define his career.
He got injured in every season that followed, from MCL tears to sprains - it seemed he was destined to be plagued with an injury bug.
Everyone started losing faith in Rose’s ability to bounce back with every season, even his hometown team.
It wasn’t long before he was eventually traded to the New York Knicks.
A Not So Fresh Start
A new team drew the promise of a fresh start for Rose, a chance to prove himself again.
Despite all the doubters, he never got down on himself and stayed positive through it all.
He played steadily for the Knicks for 2 years but never quite regained his former glory and success.
The Knicks never made the playoffs and with that, Rose’s career, along with his confidence, fell off a cliff.
A fan told him, ‘You’re the man.’ He replied, ‘Not anymore…’
No one ever bought the stock of Derrick Rose again.
The Build Up
Without much interest around the league, Rose signed with his former nemesis in the Lebron-led Cavs to become a role player.
Here he was, the youngest MVP winner, an All-Star, a former franchise player, resorting to a bench role.
However, he stayed humble and grounded and contributed wherever he could with the Cavs.
Despite all efforts, the Cavs front office saw trouble in the season and changed the entire roster, resulting in Rose being traded to the Jazz and eventually waived by them.
Thankfully, his former coach Thibodeau took a chance when no one else would, and signed him to a veteran minimum with the Timberwolves.
Because of injuries to regular starters Butler and Teague, Thibodeau was forced to start Rose against the Jazz.
The team that waived him.
That was all the motivation he needed, as he went into attack mode throughout the game, netting career-high 50 points, along with a game-winning block to seal the win, at aged 30.
This was a man that had doubters from his team, his city and his fans. Multiple teams didn’t even give him a thought, much like the Utah Jazz.
A former MVP, who was humble and had no complicating attitude problems, never asked for too much.
For the veteran’s minimum.
This is a man who will give everything he has; with skills and the heart to lead a team in both spirit and on-court contributions.
Yes, he may not be the MVP he once was at age 30. He may or may never win a title.
But he is in a good spot with the Timberwolves who are not expecting miracles, just consistent contributions.
He ‘worked his ass off’ for a game he love and never grinds about lacking opportunities or brags about his former glory.
He just took his opportunity when given to him and gave his best.
His hardwork and dedication helped him do what he did on Thursday.
This was a game for the hard workers and the ones that fell. It’s not over for you. The same way it wasn't for him.
S/O to Pooh, the former Windy City Assassin.
To all the fellow hard workers, keep working hard, you will get there. Don't be afraid to get help if you need it.