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Derrick Rose, The Chicago Bull: A Retrospective

Did it really have to end like this?
by John Paulo Aguilera | Jun 23, 2016
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Well, yes.

Actually, we're quite surprised that it took this long. As much as we love comeback stories, this one has been too painful to endure.

The Chicago Bulls bid goodbye to former Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, trading him, along with Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round draft pick, to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek was ecstatic in a statement, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated: "This is an exciting day for New York and the Knicks. Derrick is one of the top point guards in the NBA who is playoff-battle-tested. He adds a whole new dynamic to our roster and immediately elevates our backcourt."

On the other hand, the Bulls organization told Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report that it will always be grateful to this "great teammate who put winning first, and nobody fought harder through injuries and disappointment." They described his MVP season as "one for the ages" and wished Rose "nothing but the best moving forward."

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Chicago teammate Jimmy Butler was among the first to react to Rose's departure.

And with that, the Derrick Rose-Chicago Bulls saga comes to a close. Whether this blockbuster deal improves or worsens the situation in New York, we have yet to see.

From agility to fragility

The year was 2008. In a fairytale (and rather skeptical) twist of fate, the Windy City were able to nab their homeboy at No. 1 during the NBA Draft.

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Considering how near impossible the team's odds of acquiring draft rights for the top pick that year (1.7%) was, the Bulls set the record for winning the lottery with the least chances since it was modified for the 1994 NBA draft—the second lowest ever.

But that particular draft had a deeper significance: Since Michael Jordan's glory days in the '90s, the franchise had struggled with the team's identity. Suddenly, Chicago had the chance to actually become relevant again, with its hometown kid leading the way.

Except for a couple of minor injuries, Rose's first three years were basically a greenhorn basketball player's pipe dream:

2008-09 - Rookie of the Year (16.8 points per game, 6.3 assists per game)
2009-10 - All-Star (20.8 ppg, 6 apg)
2010-11 - Most Valuable Player (25 ppg, 7.7 apg; the youngest player to receive the award)

Entering his fourth season, the Bulls wasted no time and locked up Rose for the next five years ($94.8 million), a move deemed smart—if not, genius—back then. That's when things took a turn for the worse.

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Having just played a career-low 39 games in the lockout-shortened season, he goes down and tears the ACL in his left knee during Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Philadephia 76ers. If you thought missing the rest of that postseason was bad, Rose then had to be out for a whole year (2012-13) while recovering from surgery.

From that point on, it was a roller coaster of injury, incision, and inconsistency for the inauspicious star. God knows how many times he announced his "(The) Return," only to falter before each season ends. The man, who was touted as Chicago's post-Jordan savior due to his explosiveness and agility, was reduced to a butt of memes about his fragility.


Jokes on social media were so cringeworthy and close to the bone, stemming from mere mockery (health) to utter disappointment (unavailability). While he had to endure both physical and psychological pain, what hurt more was the fact that some of the people who criticized and poked fun at Rose were the same ones who chanted "MVP" at him previously.

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Another "new chapter"

The thing is, he can't really blame them.

For a city that had gotten used to winning (1991-93, 1996-98), its people desperately clung to the sliver of hope in Rose and believed that after a decade of mediocrity, he will take them again to the Promised Land. Instead what they got—at least after his contract extension—was a player who spent most of his time languishing at the end of the bench in a suit and tie.

And because of human nature, he will be remembered mostly for breaking our hearts with every fall and taking a lot of the ribbing about not suiting up in back-to-back games, than his above-the-rim dalliances, crippling crossovers, and his ability to deliver in the clutch:

Maybe this is what Rose needs: a change of scenery, less pressure (although New York could be more vicious, he has new teammates Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis to share the attention), an entirely new organization—basically, a fresh start. Who knows, a big-time player like him might just thrive under the bright lights of the Big Apple, especially now that he is entering his contract year.

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Despite suffering years of crucifixion, we all know that Rose will be leaving the city of Chicago with a heavy heart. More than looking for a house in New York, it will be harder for him to get used to not seeing the sea of red and white, not to mention the stern look of the iconic Bulls logo at the center of the parquet in every home game. His biggest regret, however: ending up as the franchise' greatest "What if?"

Rose, 27, ends his seven-year Bulls tenure with career averages of 19.7 points and 6.2 assists. In the end, though, those numbers, along with his numerous accolades, won't matter. This man risked his health and gave his all—both knees—to his hometown, more than proving himself to be a Bull for life.

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