“With the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select Derrick Rose from the University of Memphis.” Since that line was uttered from David Stern’s mouth in the 2008, my life as a Bulls fan hasn’t been same.
Before I start, I just want to say that you’re one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever seen. Nothing phased you. You stayed true to who you are. Lebron James and the rest of the eastern conference allstars were dancing on stage, you stayed true to yourself and didn’t dance because that’s not who you are. You never lobbied to have another prime-time player come join the Bulls. Not because you didn’t want them, but because you wanted to beat the top competition, and if someone wanted to come they can. But you wouldn’t go out of your way to beg them. That’s your staying true to yourself. Not being phased by the media twisting your words and reporting that you’re fully healthy to return in 2013 but you chose not to, you stayed true to yourself and trusted your body and ignored the headlines. You are one cool dude. There’s no one else like you in the NBA. For that, and for a lot of other things, I’ll forever be your fan.
It’s taken a lot out of me to write this open letter for you. It’s emotionally draining thinking about the last 8 years as a Bulls fan and knowing it won’t be the same moving forward. I keep looking at these different posts on social media with your body in a Knicks jersey and it just shocks me every single time. How could they do this? Gar Forman called this a basketball decision, not financial? For a team that’s stuck being mediocre, there’s no need to make such a big basketball decision when the outcome won’t change a single thing. We’re in the middle of the pack, that’s your fault, Gar. Don’t blame Rose and trade him away expecting us to progress. Keeping or trading Rose won’t move the Bulls up or down from where there are, so where’s the basketball decision?
Let’s be real, Derrick. You’re clearly the biggest star with/without injuries to this day since Michael Jordan. Put any name from the three-time champion Blackhawks team, the lovable Cubs, or any player from the Bears roster since Jordan retired and nobody compares to the impact you’ve had on Chicago.
How fitting is it that the day Northeast Ohio’s son, Lebron James, celebrates the championship he brought home is the same day Chicago quits on their native son by trading him away to New York.
I feel like there’s no words or sentence I can put together to tell you how much you mean to me. I started my Facebook page “Die-Hard Chicago Bulls Fans” the day after you tore your ACL. While I’m sitting at 170,000 fans, you’ve been my inspiration from day one to continue. More importantly, I’ve noticed something unusual as the Admin of the page. No matter how many mocking Derrick Rose jokes you’ll hear, which is a crap load from Bulls fans, I can promise you it’s a small percentage of them. It may feel like a lot because that small group of haters are loud and active, but based off the positive post that are shared vs the negative comments, I can promise you that there are way more die-hard Derrick Rose fans that will follow him to the ends of the earth than there are haters.
For a lot of us who were born and witnessed the Jordan era, Jordan was our Jordan. For the millennials, you are their Michael Jordan. You brought excitement to their lives. You brought hope. You brought highlight-reels and flashy layups that always ended up on Sports Center. You gave this franchise a face again. That face held the MVP in front of his hometown being the youngest player to ever win it.
I remember the day after you tore your ACL, all I wanted was to hear you speak again. It sounds weird. But few days before Game 2 against the Sixers felt like we were mourning the death of an athlete. Just sadness in Chicago. You went into hiding. There was no quote or interview from you. Then Game 2 happened. You wore your black sweatsuit and limped your way onto the court with the ball in your hand as you handed it over to the ref. I exhaled and then smiled. Finally. I felt at peace again. I just wanted to know that you’re alright. After you waved, I knew you’d be okay.
You were hands down one of the clutchest players I’ve ever seen. Whether it’s the game winner against the Bucks, Warriors, Lakers, or Cavaliers, I knew I could trust you with the ball in the final seconds no matter how you were performing.
I’ve been on record bashing the front-office. I’ve come up with petitions to fire Gar Forman that were heard all around the nation. Forman is leading this historic franchise in a directionless path. I’m sadden and feel at fault I wasn’t more successful with the petition. If it was, you wouldn’t finish your career in Chicago like this. You deserved better. You deserved to leave with a ring on your finger and your jersey hanging from the rafters. You might be just a kid from Chicago, but you’re an inspiration to the rest of us.
I’ve always felt like your words never matched what your heart really meant to say. No matter how innocent your intentions were, the media would rip on you because that’s what they’re known to do. I think your image was slowly suffering by the generation that only functions with short-term memory. I refuse to be one of those. I know it took a lot for you to make it to the NBA. Anyone with a brain knows what the streets of Englewood are like, it’s on the news everyday. For you to survive, we shouldn’t be asking why aren’t you doing this or that, we should be asking how you’re doing this or that. How did you make it out of Englewood? How did you work your butt off and win the MVP? How did you come back from three knee surgeries? Just..how?
I was lucky to watch you for the first time live last season against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ve been to a lot of Bulls games in my life, but with bad luck I wasn’t able to catch you live. I finally did. Even with the face mask you dropped 29 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds against Russell Westbrook in an epic battle. Three knee surgeries later and you were still a blur on the court.
Derrick, I wish you the best of luck in New York. Whether you get that big deal you were looking for next summer or not, just continue being yourself. I know you’re in a contract year and you’ll do big things there. Embrace the city. Maybe a fresh start is what’s best for you. The media savages won’t let go of the Butler-Rose feud. Maybe it’s time you take your talents elsewhere for the time being and release the pressure of being the homegrown child of Chicago.
To me, you’ll always be the MVP. You’ll always be the reason why our fan base remained strong after the Jordan era. You’ll always be who you want to be, which makes us love you even more. With that, it pains me to say goodbye. I really wish I’ll see you in a Bulls jersey again down the road, after our front-office is fired. There is no such thing as loyalty to these clowns. They let go of Hinrich, Deng, you, and soon to be Noah. I’ll cherish what you’ve done for this team and this city forever.
You’ll forever be our MVP,