On Derrick Rose, the New York Knicks and the Hurt of Being a Fan

The Knicks are a central part of my identity. For the good and the bad, the New York Knickerbockers are a part of who I am. For many people in my life,, Netta and the Knicks are a fluid tandem — one does not exist without the other. The team has influenced nearly every part of my life: my wardrobe, the decor in my apartment, my reading materials, my listening habits and television interests, my relationships and perhaps most profoundly, my career. So it should come as no surprise that I had a deep-rooted reaction to the Derrick Rose trade.

“Drose a knick”

When I read the text message from my brother-in-law, my heart sank. No, no, no, this could not be happening again. No, no, no. In all honesty, I’m still having trouble sifting through my deep-seeded emotions regarding the trade, but when friends asked for my thoughts, I shared this story:

On November 13,2010 I went with some friends to the Evanston movie theater to see the epic Denzel Washington film, “Unstoppable”. I was a freshman and eager to meet the upperclassmen who were also a part of this Northwestern News Network outing. I ended up sitting between two people who would become my friends, but at the time were just older boys that I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. I was pretty shy and quiet, maybe a bit intimidated, but when one of them mentioned Pat Riley I went off. With a string of expletives my loud enthralling outburst as to why I had such disdain for a great basketball mind, left both Jason and Justin in shock. In my memory, they both laughed nervously and looked totally stunned. Needless to say, their perception of me was definitely changed. My reaction to the sting of Pat Riley’s ugly departure years earlier is nothing compared to the visceral reaction I am having to the Knicks acquisition of Derrick Rose.

Let’s start with the basketball perspective. Aside from the obvious cap cushion that the trade will provide heading into a crucial off season next summer, this is the aspect of the trade I take least issue with. Robin Lopez was a great hustle guy last season and I will miss his scrappy play, but the Knicks don’t lose too much on the floor by sending Rolo, Calderon and Grant to the Bulls. The rebounding and rim protection lost without Lopez on the floor can easily be accounted for with whoever the Knicks decide to play at the 5 along with Porzingis (at the 4) and Anthony (at the 3). Derrick Rose has clearly been maligned by bad ankles for a good portion of his career, but he was an NBA MVP and when healthy there is no doubt that he can play. His health is definitely a roll of the dice, but hopefully the Knicks can sign a decent backup who can take over if things go south.

That being said, Derrick Rose arriving in New York reminds me a bit of a few other injury prone point guards arriving at the Garden — See Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady. The move scares me more because it reeks of a tainted culture that is all too familiar under the iconic ceiling of the mecca.

Let me explain-

My utter dismay of this trade stems from a simple idea — locker room presence. Who is Derrick Rose? Derrick Rose was quiet a kid from Chicago with an enormous skill set who took the NBA by storm. He ran the Bulls offense with speed, precision and grit. That’s who Derrick Rose was. Now — Derrick Rose is a man with a reputation that precedes him in the worst possible way. Last year Derrick Rose was accused of a violent and malicious “gang rape” and while the civil suit brought against the face of Adidas Basketball has been largely dismissed as an attempt at extortion, it’s important to note how Rose responded. When asked about the case Rose talked about everything but the accusations made against him. In fact, the quote you have probably heard referenced in the wake of this trade, the quote that incensed Bulls fans, the quote in which Rose says he is excited about free agency two years down the road — that quote is a result of Rose trying to escape questions about the gross accusations. His odd rant coupled with the accusation in and of itself is concerning when considering what kind of culture the Knicks are trying to create. This is the team and the fan base who thought they were rid of the stench left behind by Isiah Thomas and the sexual harassment charges filed against him, free of the clouds looming from Stephon Marbury coercing an intern, free from a poisonous culture.

The accusations and civil suit, which is due to go to trial the same day that the NBA preseason commences, aside, reports out of Chicago do not reflect too well on Rose’s presence in the literal lockerroom. Rumors of resentment and frustration from Rose’s teammates leaked throughout the last few seasons in Chicago and became particularly loud this season as the team struggled to find its way. This is not the guy you want to bring into your lockerroom and sit next to your young stud. This is not the guy I want to root for.

I was at the United Center in 2013 when the Bulls opened up their season against the Knicks. The game came down to a last second shot and Rose delivered. In his return to the hardwood, he made the shot his team needed to win the game. The Knicks were coming off their best season in years, but they were about to embark on a downward spiral. The Bulls seemed to be looking up. That is not what happened. Rose may have made that shot, but he is not a consummate winner. He’s worried more about being sore in 20 years than he is about winning today or tomorrow. The man is entitled to worry about his future and about his health, but I want a winner.

The Knicks I first fell in love with were fighters. Patrick Ewing embodied what I think a New York Knick should be. Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley (essentially the entire rosters of the ‘70 and ‘73 Knicks)and Bernard King were students of the game, they were guys who genuinely enjoyed playing basketball and who lived to win. Jamal Crawford is the most recent Knick that really embodied the spirit of the orange and blue. Derrick Rose is not there.

So today when I heard the news that the Knicks had acquired Derrick Rose, I was hurt, I was angry and I was sad. Derrick Rose is not who I want to root for, Derrick Rose is not who I want on my team.

I will still go to MSG, I will still watch every game, I will still vehemently cheer and scream because the Knicks are a part of who I am. But don’t expect me to don the sacred threads with “Rose” embroidered on the back. Even if a miracle happens on the court and Rose turns out to be amazing — I won’t want to cheer for him. Will I? Maybe. But so it goes.

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