Recently, The Chicago Bulls brass and some players spent an evening at a recruitment dinner for Carmelo Anthony. Absent from this gala event was Derrick Rose, and frankly I couldn’t be more proud of him. There is so much talk these days of players recruiting stars and trying to “team-up” to win a championship. The media has shined a bright light on what they perceive as Rose’s unwillingness to do so. Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care that Derrick doesn’t recruit, I don’t care that he doesn’t show interest in teaming up with another star player. For I understand that Derrick Rose grew up in Englewood, one of, if not the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. His mother raised him and his brothers in an area of Chicago that has notoriously gained the nicknames ‘Chi-Raq’ or the ‘Blood and Guts’ neighborhood, for the daily violence that occurs there, and despite all this suffering, he still loves Chicago. He is still proud that he is from Chicago’s southside, and wears the city on the many tattoos that mark his body. He doesn’t care if he wins a championship for Carmelo Anthony, He cares if he wins a championship for Chicago. So for that, I am proud he plays for the Bulls, and for not taking part in the dinner, I am proud of him.
However, to be fair the list of why he wants to win a championship would start with his family. His mother raised him to be humble and appreciate the blessings in his life, and to fight through its adversities. So this has been his life, for more than two years now, A daily fight against all his doubters, and the strengthening of the body that failed him. All reports are his body is strong again, and his mind is locked and loaded on continuing his quest. A quest that started in the heart of a young boy from the southside of Chicago, and has brought him to the lives of people all around the world. His sobering story has not yet finished, and the best chapters lay ahead. His team has strengthened their ranks, and is now poised to pursue victory. This summer he will wear the colors of his country, and continue to strengthen his game and body. In the fall he will dawn the jersey of his city, and all eyes will be watching if he is the same. However, I know that Derrick doesn’t want to prove he is the same, or 80% of what he was, he wants to prove he is better than ever. He knows all of those that doubted him must be crushed, all those that challenge him conquered. As Sean Connery famously said in the movie, The Untouchables, “They send one of yours to the hospital, You send one of theirs to the morgue. That’s ! the Chicago way.” It is that fearsomeness that drives Rose, and will fuel his return. As he plays the game he loves for the city that gave him birth, Chicago.