“When I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore. Or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. (I’m) just learning and being smart.”
There are times Derrick Rose is just tone deaf to the world and reaction around him. Every professional athlete has the same questions at some point, “what am I sacrificing physically to play this game?” You’d need to be an idiot not to, usually phrasing their thoughts along the lines of “Will I be able to play with my kid in the backyard someday?” Then almost all make the choice to keep playing — because of the money, because they love the game, because of the fame, because they are competitive. Rose came off as concerned about the trivial (meetings?) and like he didn’t feel he owes the Bulls, the NBA and worst of all the fans of Chicago anything despite the large checks he gets. I don’t think he really believes he doesn’t owe anyone anything — and when he’s played he hasn’t held back this year — but he can be tone deaf to the reaction of what he says.
And on Inside the NBA Charles Barkley had a reaction:
“He’s a great player and a great kid…but that was stupid. We’re so blessed. I limp around but I go home to a big ol’ mansion,” Barkley said. “There are people that work harder than Derrick Rose that go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world. I’m a poor black kid from Leeds, Alabama, who grew up in the projects and I don’t mind limping around [now]. When I go home, I have a big ol’ house. I’ve got good sheets; I don’t know the thread count, but they’re good sheets. I’ve got a big car and I never have to worry about bills. Derrick Rose is making $20 million dollars a year and he’s got a couple of bad knees. There are pros and cons of what we do for a living.”
That sentiment has been echoed by other pro athletes, I was on NBC Sports Radio’s McNabb and Malone show and former NFL quarterback Mark Malone felt the same way. So did Shaquille O’Neal.
“I was taught that if you could walk, you could play,” said Shaq without irony (this is the guy who wanted to get surgery on “company time” not during the summer when he played). “You see how Kevin McHale walks now, how Phil Jackson walks now, how Charles [Barkley] and I walk…but it was worth it. When you make comments like that, it makes you look soft…but he can only be himself. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”
Joakim Noah has defended Rose, not what he said but his commitment to the team and franchise. Kenny Smith injected this into the discussion.
“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because an MVP can’t have a low threshold of pain. It’s impossible.”
Rose was interviewed by Rachel Nichols before the game, saying people took his words out of context but not disowning or backing away from them.
“I was just worrying about myself and worrying about my future like every player in the league does. I’ll probably just think different. It’s only my seventh year but further into my career and my life, just trying to plan things out. I think people took that out of context but it is what it is. I was being myself and that’s all I can be. I couldn’t care less.”