Chicago, you never loved Derrick Rose

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images   Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images /

Special to FanSided, an open letter to Chicago Bulls fans from Fox Sports Senior Staff Writer Elias Cepeda.

Sports fans are often as quick to profess they’ve fallen in love with an athlete on their favorite team as school children are with their first crushes. You may know the feeling.

We quickly become enamored with the latest cool kid who catches our eye. We like what they can do for us, namely how they make us feel about ourselves when we watch them.

Their beauty can somehow become at least a little bit ours as long as we can hold some claim to them. Maybe we even think, and say, that we “love” them.

All the while, we never really cared for them at all – just their idealized, one-dimensional and self-serving form. This is Chicago with its new, now old, basketball crush Derrick Rose.

Rose was the first guy to make us feel that way, since Michael Jordan and his dynasty were driven out in 1998 by owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The kid was from Chicago and flew high for the Bulls, lifting up the entire team with him to the Eastern Conference Finals in just a few short years.

We were crazy about The Bulls, again, because we felt crazy in love with D-Rose’s basketball playing. Now that Rose is heading to Manhattan and the hated Knicks it is more clear than ever that we were merely selfishly infatuated with Derrick Rose.

Chicago, you never really loved Derrick Rose.

Real love is lasting, not fleeting like cheers. Real respect assumes the best out of someone, especially when given plenty of evidence to support that assumption.

No, Chicago, we never loved Derrick Rose – we just liked what he did for us, and how it made us feel. Once injuries forced him out, he struggled and his team along with him, we lost that special feeling he gave us. And so, we had no use for him, despite the fact that he injured himself playing his heart out for the team.

If we really loved him, we would have not acted as though his painful, career-threatening injuries were little more than an inconvenient nuisance to us, and complained how he was yet again injured.

If we really loved Rose, we would have recognized that he was the first guy to slash, pass and run the court like Scottie and take a game over like Mike since they left.

We would have remembered that he almost single-handedly ended a Finals appearance drought over a decade long and the warmth of his highlight memories wouldn’t have cooled over just a few seasons out.

If we had really loved Derrick Rose like we claimed we did, circa 2011, we would have rooted for him to heal so he could go on doing what he loves, instead of just hoping he’d back to win games and entertain us.

If we actually cared about Rose and saw him as a fellow hardworking Chicagoan we wouldn’t have ever made outrageous claims about his character and work ethic based only on his being injured.

If we had loved Rose we would have related to him saying he wanted to be healthy enough to enjoy time with his kids later in life instead of criticizing those remarks.

If we had loved Rose as much as we used to pretend we did, many of us wouldn’t have rooted for him to get shipped off, acting as though his departure was the only thing standing in the way of the Bulls getting back to title-form.

We would have been more mindful that it was Derrick Rose who brought back winning ways to the Bulls for the first time in the decade since the dynasty ended in 98, when he was drafted, and we wouldn’t have acted as though we’d be better off and win more without him.

I guess now, we’ll finally see whether or not that is true.

If we loved Derrick Rose we would have seen him out with the type of message his former teammate Jimmy Butler delivered this week.

“[You] Helped teach me the work ethic needed to excel in this league. You are a leader, thru and thru. Always a supportive teammate and friend. I’ll always be thankful for the opportunity I had to play alongside you each night,” Butler wrote, on Instagram.

“I know you’re going to continue to be the great player and leader you were in Chicago for years to come.”

If we loved him, we would be sad that Rose is being traded to one of our biggest historic rivals, in the same conference, instead of cheering him and making memes mocking him.

Philosopher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft once asked, “How can a rational being be ennobled by any thing that is not obtained by its own exertions?”

This is a question sports fans must ask themselves. When we act like the efforts and accomplishments of others elevate our own status, we can go in the other direction, fast, and come to believe that their struggles or shortcomings somehow hurt or damage us.

That is a dark place to be.

Chicago fans, Derrick Rose and the Bulls’ achievements were never ours, and his struggles don’t affect us in any material way, at least not in any way near the way they’ve negatively affected him.

We love to act like stars are gods, so far above us, with abilities out-sizing our own best traits. Then, when an opportunity to seize on a flaw arises, we almost gleefully love to pretend that they are frail, even much more so than us, finally.

Star athletes are neither gods nor demons, neither saviors nor villains, at least not for what they do on the field of play or court. They are, simply, people, doing what they do well.

We were given Derrick Rose, and he was everything we always hoped a Bull could be – hard-playing, brilliantly skilled, gutsy, humble and from our own ranks. Once the native son began to struggle, however, and not because of character flaws or lack of discipline, but simply because of bad luck, playing undersized, and hard and fast (the things that made us cheer for him in the first place), we grew tired of him. We began to resent Derrick Rose, to no fault of his own, and revealed our own superficiality.

We grew irritated with Derrick Rose for simply not being so seemingly effortlessly great as he was, before. That’s cold, Chicago.

Derrick Rose had skill, humility, work ethic and guts, but it is clear, now more than ever, that we still never loved him for all that. Because of that, Chicago also let the world know that we never deserved him, either.

Enjoy New York, Derrick. Enjoy Derrick, New York.