Derrick Rose with the Bulls in October 2013

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Baffoe: It's Been 10 Years Since The Bulls Drafted Derrick Rose

Rose left behind a complicated legacy of brilliance and missed opportunity.

Tim Baffoe
June 27, 2018 - 11:53 am

(670 The Score) The Bulls are currently in a rebuild. Having just drafted two first-rounders in Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison last week, the organization hopes they complement Lauri Markannen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to form an emerging core ready to compete for years to come. 

It’s a controlled plan for the most part based on intentional losing in the short term for expected long-term success and acquiring players who fit a particular scheme of coach Fred Hoiberg. All sports success involves a bit of luck, though, but any that would come the Bulls' way will be heavily predicated on how well executives John Paxson and Gar Forman have selected their personnel. 

Ten years ago, luck shone immaculately on the Bulls, probably more so than it had in 1984 when the Portland Trail Blazers opted to draft Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan. In this case, the Bulls weren’t at the mercy of someone else’s choices, as they somehow defied the minuscule 1.7 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. On June 26 of that year, they selected hometown hero Derrick Rose out of the University of Memphis.

It was too perfect of a story. Rose was a graduate of Simeon Career Academy on Chicago’s South Side, was named Mr. Basketball in Illinois and would now be given the keys to driving a franchise out of the muck it was wading in since the end of the 1990s dynasty. Perfect stories usually involve a certain degree of luck.

What wasn’t lucky was Rose’s play on the court immediately. He was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and took the Bulls to the playoffs, losing a thrilling first-round series to the second-seeded Boston Celtics in seven games. Two years later in 2011, he’d be named league MVP, the youngest player to ever receive the award. A year after that, he inked a massive 14-year endorsement deal with Adidas. Less than two months later, the bad luck came. 

Rose tore his torn ACL in the first round of the 2012 playoffs after the Bulls were a league-best 50-16 in a lockout-shortened regular season. The injury kept him out for the entirety of the following season. Thus began a small war between Rose and his trusted circle and the Bulls brass that would last for years regarding how Rose handled his rehab and time to return to the court, with the Bulls even leaking late in the 2012-'13 season that Rose had been cleared to play but was choosing not to. The names of Rose’s brother and agent, Reggie Rose and B.J. Armstrong, respectively, were in the news for being key influencers in Rose’s choices of pacing himself more than management and fans would have preferred.

Ten games into the 2013-'14 season, Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee, missed the remainder of that season and would suffer various injuries through 2016, when the Bulls traded him to the New York Knicks that summer. 

"A lot has been said and written about it," Armstrong told the Chicago Tribune in April of Rose’s ACL injury and comebacks from his injuries. "Behind closed doors when you have an injury like that, it’s very significant. You don’t know how people are going to respond to it.

"I just recall sitting there with the doctors and nobody really knew. I’m so torn with it because I know how badly he wanted to return and how much work and effort he put into it. And for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. One person’s response is different from another."

And one Bulls fan’s opinion today of Derrick Rose is different from another. For many he will always be the hometown kid who made good and reached the dream of every boy looking to get out of the South or West sides of Chicago. For others, Rose defines disappointment and what-could-have-beens, pointing to him being the only NBA MVP ever who assuredly won’t make the Hall of Fame. Many will never get over Rose’s infamous quote about sitting out some games in 2014 because he didn’t want to be sore when attending graduations and meetings years down the line.

Still for others, Rose’s Bulls tenure will be remembered for non-basketball reasons. In December 2014, he wore an "I Can’t Breathe" T-shirt during a game warmup, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, who was killed by New York police months earlier. The silent statement from Rose reverberated nationally, especially coming from a player who had yet to be voluntarily political in his basketball career and who had been criticized and dismissed previously by some for not being "well-spoken" enough. A few days later, other NBA players wore the shirt during warmups, including LeBron James, getting the ball rolling on the overt social consciousness of late in a league that has largely embraced such.

But less than two years after that, Rose was in court in a civil trial regarding an alleged rape of an intoxicated ex-girlfriend by him and multiple other men. The trial, which occurred after Rose had been traded to the Knicks, was ugly and uncomfortable and full of victim-blaming, though it was also statistically almost a miracle it even went before a jury considering how few women report being sexually assaulted and how even fewer see legal or civil consideration. In it, Rose was shown to supposedly not understand what consent is, and the victim was ultimately found by a jury to not have a credible claim against Rose and the two other men. In another tone-deaf move, Rose posed for pictures afterward with jurors.

In a culture that prizes stats and highlights and nostalgia over the well-being of women, Rose fans were as vindicated as him. For those privier to the problems with the legal and judicial system when it comes to sexual assault, the trial ended with a gross feeling of no winners. 

Rose’s post-Bulls career has been awkward at best, making news more for existential crises than basketball. He went AWOL on the Knicks for a game in January 2017 and tore his meniscus again and had surgery that April. Then he left the Cleveland Cavaliers last November as he debated his future in basketball. He finished the 2017-'18 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and former Bulls star Jimmy Butler. Rose is currently a free agent and not a highly sought one.

A question of regret surrounds Rose’s time as a Bull, though how can anyone regret drafting an MVP? Paxson and Forman have said since Rose was traded that they were unbelievably lucky to be in a position to get him in 2008. 

Rose’s is a story of flashes of basketball brilliance that brought great, brief joy to his hometown, a lot of bad luck that ripped the city’s heart out more than once and some worse choices that may define his career biography. 

All this and Derrick Rose has yet to turn 30 years old. The Bulls as an organization are in a much different place today and on the court look nothing like the Rose teams of what feels like a lifetime ago. There's enough detail in just his Bulls tenure alone to fill most lifetimes, and it began 10 years ago.

Tim Baffoe is a columnist for Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not Entercom or our affiliated radio stations.​​​​​​