Commentary: Let Derrick Rose Decide His Own Future

Commentary: Let Derrick Rose Decide His Own Future

White critics line up to chastise Bulls star guard for putting his health ahead of NBA titles.

Published November 14, 2014

Here we go again – another Black athlete whose commitment must go under a microscope. Why won’t white media stop deciding when a person is committed and when he is not?

Their latest whipping boy is Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, whom they expect, I suppose, to live his life after the NBA limping around on crutches, his broken body stooped over like an old man.

“I'm thinking about after I'm done with basketball,” Rose said in comments that have gone viral. “Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don't want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son's graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past."

He said he’s learning to be smart about his health, a higher priority for a man in his prime with his golden years to look forward to. Derrick Rose, 26, doesn’t want to go onto the floor and play injured. No athlete should.

Now, of course, if Rose were reluctant to play because he was hurt, I guess people should have a quarrel with him. Athletes play hurt all the time, but no one should ask them to play injured, even if it means he’s sitting out a big moment in a season.

Yet people do ask. Folks in the media always do. For they seem to know what’s best for an athlete, what he ought to do with his life, even when they don’t know how to walk in his sneakers or won’t have to push his wheelchair around when he’s in his late 40s and can’t walk on his own legs.

Yeah, those in the media know:

“I don’t know if that’s his brother or his agent putting that garbage in his head, but it’s one of the most embarrassing things a player can say,” wrote Steve Rosenbloom, one of the self-righteous columnists for The Chicago Tribune. “This is, it’s not just that the statement is idiotic, it’s that he apparently believes it. It’s galling and stupid, and Rose doesn’t seem smart enough to understand why.”

And here we go again, another white man with a laptop and a public forum questioning the intellect of a Black athlete. It makes no sense that his body and his life after the cheering stops are of deep concern to an aging columnist; it is crazy to suggest an athlete is too stupid to decide for himself when his ability to play well is compromised because he’s injured.

The latter was at the essence of what Rose said. It’s also what brought him criticism.

Still, the critics ought not worry Rose. He’s smart enough to know what he wants his life to look like in the years ahead. He can look out into the sports landscape and see athletes whose twilight years are a struggle because of what they did when they were stars.

Stardom is a moment in a man’s timeline, and while it brings adulation and fame, it guarantees not a thing beyond the present.

To ask a Black athlete to focus only on the present is to ask more than we have a right to ask him. What we can ask is that, whenever the athlete takes the floor, he commits to giving his all.

And Derrick Rose has made that commitment. Who dares accuse the man of giving sports fans and sports columnists less?

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(Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill

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