Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has to be overjoyed to be talking about something other than his surgically repaired knee. Still, the point guard may want to back off on his chatter to the media until he gets a little further into the regular season...or into the regular season at all.
With the season rapidly approaching and the former MVP playing in the preseason to grab his first game minutes since his knee injury in the 2011 playoffs, Rose finds himself firmly in the center of the media spotlight.
At this point, anything he says is going to be put under a microscope. That has to be annoying. This is where comments get taken out of context and blown out of proportion. However, it is what it is, and Rose doesn't need to make things harder on himself than they already are.
But that is what he is doing.
Two recent comments caught my attention. The first revolves around the Bulls' Eastern Conference rival the Indiana Pacers.
Yes, I called them rivals because they are. They are two top teams in the same conference battling for the same prize.
Now Rose was careful not to be disrespectful to the Pacers. In Nick Friedell's article, Rose was quoted as saying:
I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They've already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
...I think it was more like that rivalry feeling where we knew, we thought that they were going to have that same team for a long period of time. Then they end up going different ways, picking up different guys, and I think this team, I think in the next year or two, if both teams have the same teams, then that's when it would become a rivalry.
I understand what Rose is saying. There is something about familiar faces and opponents that adds intensity to a rivalry.
However, if I'm Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert or any of the other Pacers, I'm going to be intent on accelerating the time table with which Rose would view them as rivals, and I would do that by making his life miserable and soundly beating the Bulls in the process.
While Rose did not mean any disrespect with his comment, it still wound up being bulletin-board material. That is just what happens if a person talks to the media long enough and there is a big enough microscope on the content.
Now, onto the other comment that caught my attention:
That statement gets me excited to watch Rose play. I'm not a Bulls fan, but I am a basketball fan, and Rose is a fun player to watch. I can't even imagine him being more explosive than he already was. However, therein lies the problem for Rose.
He is raising the expectations on himself. Fans have already been salivating over Rose's return to the court—longing for the day when he comes back to single-handedly lead the Bulls to an 82-0 record with his endless stream of dunks from the three-point line just like he did before his injury.
Obviously, I'm getting carried away with Rose's talents there, but that is exactly the kind of thing that happens with anticipated returns. It's kind of like the fish we all caught that keeps getting bigger in each telling. Impressive qualities have a way of growing in memory.
Rose was going to have a hard time fulfilling fans' expectations in the first place.
The grace period from expectations that comes along with returning from major knee surgery has been almost completely erased by his lengthy absence and the performances of high-profile athletes coming off of surgery like running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.
Now Rose has not only left us expecting him to comeback resembling the player he was before the injury, but an even more explosive one. I'm sure Rose is excited about his explosiveness, but wouldn't it be better to let his play announce his athleticism in a shocking and surprising high-flying dunk or some other amazing feat on the basketball court?
Let's say Rose struggles a bit in his return and has a hard time getting to the rim. He will face an endless stream of questions about if he can be the same player he was before the injury, and what happened to the extra explosiveness he was talking about.
Rose's comments were not slanderous, mean or disrespectful in any way. In fact, both of these highlighted statements seem thoughtful and honest. I respect that. I have no problem with that.
However, the pressure and spotlight on the 25-year-old is going to be great enough without him adding to that.
Rose has waited a long time start talking about basketball again. It wouldn't hurt him to wait another month or two longer after he let his play on the court make his loudest statements.