Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago, the city that gave birth to his basketball career. That is why he is nickname the “Windy City Assassin”. But New York City is the place were his career is being resurrected. Derrick Rose is playing at a level we have rarely seen from him in the last 10 seasons.
The same can be said of the Knicks, the 2020-21 season can only be described as “magically”. No one expected the Knicks to be this good. Remember, the experts predicted that the Knicks would only win between 22 to 23 games this season. It wasn’t that the experts’ opinions were wrong, just that the facts changed.
At the start of the season, the one glaring weakness on this Knick team was the point guard position. For has good as Thibs has coached, and Randle & Barrett have played, the potential for this team was limited since they didn’t have a real floor general.
It’s no coincidence that the Knicks’ ascent to playoff team no one wants to play occurred after they traded for Derrick Rose. The Knicks are 24-11 with Rose, compared to 17-20 without him. But Rose’s impact is much greater than what we see on a stat sheet.
Rose’s Road to Redemption
Let’s not forget, this is Rose’s 2nd stint in New York. The Knicks traded for Rose back in the summer of 2016. At the time the Knicks were desperate for a point guard that could get to the rim. Sound familiar?
Phil Jackson was entering his 3rd season as team president and needed to start showing results. Trading for Rose seemed like a worth wild gamble. He was on the last year of his contract which paid him $21.3M for that season, but the Knicks didn’t have to give up much else. While Rose’s last season in Chicago was disappointing, Phil was encouraged by his play in the 2nd half.
Rose validated Phil’s assessment as he looked great at the start of the season. It helped that he was motivated to prove the Bulls wrong and get a new contract in the process. He wore #25 to honor of Chicago high school legend Benji Wilson. The Knicks got off to an encouraging start, but then everything fell apart.
It was mostly due to Derrick’s attitude. Rose had refused to accept that he was no longer a franchise player. He made delusional comments like saying “the Knicks were a super team” and that he expected to get a 5 year/$150M contract extension. While his box score stats looked good, the team struggled because his defense was atrocious. It seemed like Rose was just worried about getting his, and wasn’t truly willing to sacrifice for the team.
To make matters worse, Rose had a mental breakdown and did not show up to a game against the Pelicans on January 9th, 2017. The team was worried as he did not notify them and wasn’t answering his phone. It was apparent that he wasn’t mentally and emotionally equipped to deal with the adversity.
However, it looked like Rose still had a future in New York. Phil Jackson surprisingly showed some compassion and put the incident behind them. Also, at the end of the season Jackson ordered head coach Jeff Hornacek to start running the triangle offense. Rose pushed back at first, but bought in after Phil met with him explained the nuances of the triangle.
Ironically, Rose’s best game that season was his last. On March 27th, 2017 against the Pistons, Derrick scored 27 points on 12-17 from the field, but his night ended a sad note. He tore the meniscus in his left knee. But even then there was still hope because at the end of season press conference Phil Jackson said he was open to bringing back Rose. Then Jackson got fired right after the draft, thus ending Rose’s time in New York.
Rose the nomad
Rose went on to sign a veteran’s minimum deal with Cleveland in 2017-18, before being traded to Utah and being cut. He then signed with Minnesota, his 3rd team that season, but was reunited with coach Thibodeau. he played in 9 regular season games, but contributed in the playoffs. He averaged 14.2 ppg in 5 playoff games. The following season, 2018-19, Rose’s averaged 18.0 ppg. However had to move on to Detroit since Thibodeau got fired. He proved to be a serviceable back-up in Detroit, but one that needed to be on a minutes restriction due to injury history.
A Rose blossoms in the Garden
Who would have thought that Leon Rose would end up being the second most popular Rose in New York? The Derrick Rose acquisition was seen as a minor trade to help improve the point guard play from awful to decent. But since the moment he joined the Knicks, Rose was out to prove something. Derrick was going to make the most of his second chance in New York.
From the jump Rose embraced the role of veteran leader and took rookie Immanuel Quickley under his wing. A far cry from the player he was in his early 20s, who was reserved and preferred to lead by example. But you can’t truly be a great leader if you don’t perform on the court. Rose’s play speaks for itself. He is averaging 14.9 ppg with an eFG% of 53.0%. Not surprisingly, his plus/minus is the highest on the team at +10.9.
Rose not only commands the respect of the defense when he has the ball in his hand. But you also see the reverence that players have from him every time he goes to the ground. You normally don’t see players come quickly to help an opposing player get up. That is the respect Rose commands. Remember most young players in the NBA grew up idolizing MVP Derrick Rose. So while injuries have robbed Rose of the opportunity to reach his athletic potential. His grit and desire have earned him the respect that only true basketball legends are worthy of.