Derrick Rose will always have that MVP season, and Chicago will always wonder what might have been, but, for all intents and purposes, the career of Derrick Rose ended on Wednesday.
With the news that Rose would need yet another knee surgery, a season-long vigil came to a close. Even casual observers could see that Rose was moving gingerly. The explosiveness he demonstrated earlier in his career had left the building. While the NBA world watched in horror, Rose tore his left ACL in the 2012 playoffs. It was an innocent time; no one could have predicted that this setback would be the first in a series of injuries that would most likely end his career. An injury to his right knee, only a few weeks after his return in 2013, signaled that Rose wasn’t just dealing with a series of freak accidents, but that his body was never going to be able to sustain the workload of an NBA season again.
The rate of Rose’s physical deterioration is matched only by how quickly he achieved stardom. Rose was the youngest MVP recipient in NBA history in 2011. Then he became Penny Hardaway, a similarly skilled point guard who saw his own career quickly derailed by injury. Portland All-Star Brandon Roy suffered the same fate a few years ago, ending his career at the age of 27 after his knees gave out to the point he could no longer play without excruciating pain.
It’s a rare athlete who gets to hang up their uniform before their body tells them to. Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Mike Mussina, Nolan Ryan, Ray Lewis, Tim Duncan – these players can be named off the top of one’s head. For the majority of professional athletes however, the end comes when the body tells them . For the fans of the NBA and especially of the Bulls, it’s a shame that Rose’s time has come so soon. For Derrick Rose, above all else, this must be devastating. We’ve finally reached the end of the road, and all that’s left are the memories of a once-exceptional player.
All that said, let's remember that the guy is going to have an afterlife.
Contrary to the tone of this article and most sports media in the past day, Derrick Rose is alive and well and living in a condo in Chicago. While his professional career might be nearing an end, and the sports world is dealing with this news in its own special way, this is something that it seems like Rose has known for some time. That means he's been planning ahead for something beyond the court. As a millionaire who came from the south side of Chicago with a penchant for philanthropy, Rose can do a whole lot of good in the next phase of his life while also avoiding the fate of Bill Walton, whose injuries have led to a life of excruciating pain. For Rose, there's time to heal and time to do something else.
Photos by Tim Fuller / USA Today Sports