Derrick Rose: Injuries deny a shot at greatness

Things have dramatically shifted for the number one pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, leaving a man who is now on the brink of retirement due to injuries.

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(Photo Credit: Keith Allison)

One would never have expected that the last ten seconds of the 2008 national title game between the Memphis Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks would be the beginning of the end for Derrick Rose. 

No, his career didn’t end when he missed the first of those two free throws, but it began to lose a sliver of the shimmer that was supposed to shine for the future league MVP. 

Fast forward to where we are today, and it’s hard to figure out the unfortunate trajectory that has derailed a player expected to rise to unheralded ranks. 


Injuries figure heavily in a sad sports tale

The list of injuries Rose has suffered is more extensive than what entire teams deal with over the course of a season. From torn meniscuses to ACL/MCL damage in each knee, tallied with numerous sprained ankles. The list just goes on and on. 

Each injury was fairly different in the time required to recover, adding to the frustration. A few games for a sore elbow, to an entire season for a knee injury demands different adjustments in recovery, all the while causing a lot of mental strain.

To put Rose’s injury record into perspective, consider this fact: Rose had six injuries in the 2014/2015 season alone, followed by eight more injuries in the 2015/2016 season. That he came back and continued to play as much as his rehab prepared him to is astounding. Other players would have given up after that 2014/15 campaign alone.

Now, Rose is facing another extended stint on the sidelines after spraining his ankle while playing for the Cavaliers. The latest setback has reportedly prompted the former Chicago Bulls star to reconsider his future in the NBA.

What could have been

Rose set the NBA on fire in the early stages of his career. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft, he went on to win Rookie of the Year in 2009, the same year in which he recorded 36 points in his playoff debut against the Celtics. 

The 2009/10 season saw him land his first All-Star nod, despite an ankle injury during the preseason. That was followed by his MVP-winning campaign in 2010/11, in which he averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists per game, leading the Bulls into the playoffs with a league-leading record of 60-22. At ?, Rose became the youngest ever MVP in 2011, following up with similarly dominant displays the next season until suffering the infamous ACL tear in the first round of the playoffs against Philadelphia. 

Rose showed enormous tenacity to return to the court, before leading the Bulls back into the playoffs in 2015. But the reality was that a spate of injuries had already done their damage. Despite flashes of brilliance, more injury setbacks followed, as did an unsuccessful one-season stint with the New York Knicks in 2016/17. Now with the Cavs, it’s a case of the same bad luck for Rose, who understandably has been a shadow of his former self for several years.


Can he bounce back?

It’s tough to watch Rose’s decline. Once destined for the Hall of Fame, Rose is now faced with an ignominious end. 

Yet, at 29, there still may be something left in the tank. If Rose has shown us anything throughout his career, it’s that he possesses an almost never-before-seen drive to simply suit up and play. Others would have already eased into their post-basketball lives by now, while Rose is still chasing an elusive ring.

The way the Cavs are rolling right now, he stands a good chance of winning it. That alone should be enough reason for him to lift himself off the physiotherapist’s table and bounce back yet again.