The topic of this blog entry is pretty straightforward. One of the top 2013 NBA playoffs stories has been whether Derrick Rose should come back to aid his team's quest for a title. This question has been hotly debated over the past few weeks, especially with Rose himself saying that he could potentially comeback at any time as long as he felt ready. Before I express my viewpoint, I want it to be known that my opinion on whether he should play or not has nothing to do with Derrick Rose's character. Quite a few people like D.Rose so much as a person, that they're not able to bring themselves to dislike his decisions as a professional athlete. This blog is not written by one of them. So should Derrick Rose return? I think he should, and that he should have returned already.
Why do I think he should have returned already? It's quite simple. Contrary to popular belief, I believe that as a professional athlete, Rose does have certain obligations. These obligations are to the NBA, the Chicago Bulls organization, his teammates, and to the fans. As a professional athlete (Someone who is paid to play a sport) the simple obligation is that he should play in every game that he can play in. Derrick Rose has been cleared for full contact practice since January. If it was a matter of him being 85-90% then I would agree that he shouldn't play, but he's been given a clean bill of health, and has been going through full practices for over 3 months. Over the past two years Derrick Rose has played in 39 out of a possible 148 games. Not blaming him for being injured, but the fact that he has already missed so many games should entice him to return as soon as possible. Any casual fan can tell you that the NBA already has an issue of some players signing long-term fully guaranteed contracts and not giving the effort that they did to earn the contract. Not the production, but the effort. I would hate to see another precedent of guys taking longer than they should to return from injuries, just because they can.
The NBA is a product just like an iPad, Range Rover, Galaxy III, etc. The difference is that consumers (fans) are paying high prices for a product with little to no long-term value. If you disagree, try to sell your tickets from the past Super Bowl and see what you get for them. Without long-term value it is important for consumers to get the best product possible. That's why I'm against rebuilding or giving up years. It's the equivalent of paying high prices for a bad product. Imagine paying for an iPad that couldn't store music. While the NBA (all sport leagues, and companies do) uses it's athletes for it's own monetary gain, it also allows it's players to make a decent living in return for their skills. That's as fair as the world gets. The Bulls organization is paying Rose $16.4 million this year. If he can play, which has been proven to be the case, then he should. Lets not forget what a professional athlete is, someone who is paid to play. Another belief is that the amount of money he makes shouldn't matter. I disagree with that as well. When you accept the big contract numbers, you are accepting the responsibility that comes with it.
Some people say he shouldn't play because his team can't win the title, and again I disagree. First his team finished 45-37, good for 5th place in the Eastern Conference without him playing a single minute. If he's the top-5 player that he is given credit as being, then his presence should in fact allow his team to make a serious run at a title. Look at the past 10-15 years, very few teams were good enough that you could take their superstar off and they'd still make the playoffs. That alone already means that Derrick Rose is playing with a better team than Iverson had in Philly, T-Mac had in Orlando, Dirk had in Dallas, Lebron had in Cleveland, KG had in Minnesota, Pierce had in Boston, Melo had in Denver, etc. You couldn't take those stars off of those team and think the team would win games. It might seem as if I'm being hard on Derrick Rose, but Rose wanted this responsibility. He's the same guy that had the infamous "Why Not Me?" quote which became a catalyst for his MVP season. Despite his age, when he accepted 30% of his team's salary cap and the MVP trophy, his peers became Jordan, Bird, Magic, Lebron, Kobe instead of Kevin Love, OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday. I can't see any of them not playing in this situation. Next year when Kobe is rounding into shape from his Achilles injury, do you know how excited he would be to join a team that remained in the top-5 in the conference without him. He'd probably say they were serious title contenders, because he believes in his own ability along with a team that has been able to win without him. This brings me to my last argument on why he should play which I think is one of the most important, his obligation to his teammates.
Derrick Rose is without a doubt the best player on the Chicago Bulls, the face of the franchise, the leading scorer, and the highest paid player. With that comes the responsibility to deliver greatness, fair or not. I think by not playing even though he's been cleared for months, Derrick Rose is letting down his teammates effort. His teammates battled through injuries, lost some great role players from last year's team (Korver, Asik, Watson, Lucas, Brewer) and still managed to stay competitive and deliver a playoff appearance. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, both all-stars in their own right, have fought injuries over the years and played at less than a 100% to give Rose a chance at a title. They understand that nothing is guaranteed, and even though the future looks bright this could very well be their best team ever with D.Rose playing of course. If you don't believe me, look at the 2006-07 Golden State Warriors roster, a team full of very good players just entering their prime. After finishing 16-5 and upsetting the #1 seed Mavericks, that team seemed destined to compete for titles for years, but never made it back to the playoffs until this year. The great part about the Bulls is that this team was constructed around Derrick Rose being able to make a comeback and giving him a good chance once he did. They lived up to their end of the deal, and I think Rose is selling his teammates effort short by not returning. With all that said, Rose is a great player and person, so I'll be still rooting for him whenever he does decide to return.
Well that is my opinion on why Rose should have returned. Feel free to leave comments and feedback. Thank you for reading.