Derrick Rose has never been a talker. Over time, though, he’s gotten better. More comfortable, perhaps. Still, talking to Derrick Rose is not what you would expect. Conversing with the All-Star guard is kind of like chatting up a high school basketball phenom.
Somehow, despite all of the media attention and scrutiny that goes along with being one of the best players in the NBA, Rose has remained unguarded. Open and forthcoming, if you ask a question, he will answer it without ever thinking about how his answer might affect him afterward. A lot of players say they don’t read the newspapers and blogs and a lot of players lie. You get the feeling that Rose isn’t when he says that he keeps his focus to basketball.
As superstar players get better with the media, a piece of their truth becomes shrouded as they attempt to shield themselves from criticism. We take the clichéd answers that are a part of the suave, yet calculated responses that fill up our stories. While Rose still doesn’t give that million-dollar quote, he gives something more.
While most post-game scrums involving players of Rose’s caliber will go on until a PR person steps in to say “last question,” with Rose, it is often the media members thanking him for his time when they realize he’s told them what he thinks and they won’t get anything new because there isn’t anything new to get. Rose is willing to answer whatever else is directed his way, but for the intents and purposes of the media, he’s of no more use to us.
In a world where strong egos and loud personalities are celebrated for the material they give us to work with, Rose is the opposite. Quiet and unfiltered — but never in way that’s dangerous to the organization– Rose seems younger than his 22 years.
After a victory against the Toronto Raptors where his arm is aching, he doesn’t brush it off and tell us he will be fine. He acknowledges that his arm was killing him and that the drugs taken before the game didn’t do anything to numb the pain. He says he told teammate Carlos Boozer to get 40 because he knew he couldn’t shoulder the scoring load himself.
No ego. No hero. No superhuman feat.
Rose continues to talk, telling the media about teammate Brian Scalabrine’s message to him in the locker room while he was getting ready to hit the floor with that sore arm.
“Scal said something good before the game, saying that great players find a way to play through things. He mentioned Kobe, saying his finger and all of that. That gave me something to think about knowing that there’s no point in playing this game if you’re not trying to be the best. In being the best, you’ve got to fight through injuries, at least play.”
Not many reporters were around for this part of the conversation. Having gotten what they needed from Rose, they left to talk to Joakim Noah and the superstar gave a superstar quote to a media crowd of three. Still young enough to look up to Kobe Bryant. Still honest enough to act like a mere mortal, allowing us to see his pain as he slowly rubbed the inside of his elbow. Still unguarded enough to let us into his thoughts and desire to be the best.
While Rose is talking, a locker room attendant comes over to tell him that former Memphis teammate Joey Dorsey is waiting in the tunnel and wants to meet up with him before he goes to the team bus. Rose on top of the world, Dorsey finally on a team, the two truly on opposite ends of the spectrum. A few months earlier when Rose was in town, he called Dorsey a brother. Seeing how unaffected Rose is by his fame, it’s easy to see why Dorsey says he is still the same D-Rose he was in college. Rose thanks the locker room attendant and focuses his attention back on the pair of media members still talking to him.
Rose might not be the go-to guy after a huge victory. Sideline reporters may still cringe when trying to get emotion out of the young leader. Beat writers may always know that Noah is the guy who will have the colorful quotes that will make headlines. Keeping all of this in mind, I hope we enjoy the rarity that Rose is off of the court. As sensational as he is on it, away from the bright lights and buzzer beaters is a shy and genuine 22 year old who shows you who he is without trying to become someone else.