New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose is ‘still in the mix’
As playing time has dwindled, former MVP says he’s enjoying his role as a veteran presence
Derrick Rose, the former NBA MVP, received several loud roars from nostalgic New York Knicks fans when he played in the final three minutes of a playoff win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 21. While the 34-year-old Rose’s limited role is a far cry from his days of superstardom — it was the three-time NBA All-Star’s first game action since Feb. 25 — retirement does not appear to be on his mind.
“I still got a lot left in the tank, so it’s about being patient,” Rose told Andscape in March. “I killed my ego long ago. It’s not about the ego thing anymore. It’s about enjoying where I am at right now because there are a lot of older guys and younger guys that wish they were in my position.”
Rose will be in uniform when the Knicks face the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday. Twelve years ago, Rose was sitting atop the NBA world as the star of the Chicago Bulls.
The No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft and the 2009 Rookie of the Year, Rose tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 39-year-old record for points by a rookie in a playoff debut with 36 in an overtime win against the defending champion Boston Celtics in 2009. In 2011, Rose was the youngest player to win the NBA MVP award at the age of 22.
The NBA announced in 2011 that Rose had the league’s most popular jersey over Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant and LeBron James of the Miami Heat. Rose signed a five-year, $94.8 million contract with the Bulls in December 2011. The 6-foot-3 guard, however, tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 NBA playoffs and remained sidelined through the 2012-13 season. Rose has overcome many injuries and is at the point where he is one game shy of playing 700 regular-season games played. The 13-year NBA veteran averaged 5.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists for the Knicks this season.
“Derrick has been great for us. He’s a veteran leader,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau told Andscape recently. “He’s always embraced every role that he has had whether he was the MVP at 22, a role player or coming back from injury. He will help in any way that he can. He has been extremely helpful to all our young players. I’m really proud of him.
“He’s had, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame career. But he is a Hall of Fame guy as well.”
Rose went scoreless in three minutes of the Knicks’ 99-79 Game 3 victory over the Cavaliers on April 21. The Knicks fans cheered loudly when he entered the game and every time he touched the ball. Knicks swingman RJ Barrett was in awe of the applause.
“They are going to cheer for him every time,” Barrett said after Game 3. “It’s Derrick Rose, man. It’s a legend. To be on the team with him, it’s surreal sometimes.”
While Rose rarely plays, he has a veteran big brother role with the Knicks similar to forward Udonis Haslem with the Miami Heat and says he will be ready whenever he is called to action.
“Give them everything. Coming in early. Being on time for everything. Keeping my routine, the same after 67 games when I’m not playing but two or three minutes,” Rose said. “Talking to the young guys. Being vocal. I’m fully invested in everything to be here. And if I [wasn’t], I wouldn’t be on the team.
“There aren’t too many 15-year vets just sitting around benches. You have to give some type of value. I’m thankful that they didn’t trade me or buy me out or waive me. I’m happy I have some type of value.”
In October 2016, a jury in Los Angeles federal court found Rose and two of his friends not liable in a civil lawsuit in which they were accused of sexual assault. Rose and his attorneys denied all allegations when the lawsuit was filed.
The Knicks have a club option on Rose for $15.5 million next season with a June 24 decision deadline. The Knicks respect Rose’s professionalism and are confident he can play at a productive level, but considering he is seldom used, it appears doubtful that the Knicks would pick up that option, an NBA source said.
While Rose’s NBA future is uncertain, he isn’t ready to be reflective on his up-and-down career.
“I’m still in the mix,” Rose said. “It’s like someone asking you to reflect on yours if you’re still in the game. That’s how I feel. I still feel like I’m giving them my all. I still feel like I’m getting better. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. I still feel like I’m getting better.”
Thibodeau’s view of Rose as a “Hall of Fame” guy dates back to seeing what he did off the court in Chicago when he coached him there.
Rose has paid for funerals for gun violence victims in Chicago. He donated $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit that arranges out-of-school apprenticeships for teens. Rose gave $7,000 to Chicago resident Demetrius Nash to help fund his long walk from Chicago to Washington in 2017 in hopes of raising awareness about the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago.
Rose also sponsored a a four-day trip to Senegal last summer for 14 kids from Simeon High School in Chicago. Rose led Simeon to IHSA Class AA state championships in 2006 and 2007. The kids were chosen based on grades and behavior. Rose was also joined by former Bulls teammates Joakim Noah and Luol Deng and former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Gorgui Dieng, a Senegal native.
Rose answered the students’ questions during the Senegal trip about basketball and life, according to the Chicago Tribune. While in Senegal, Rose and the group visited Goree Island, a former slave trade hub, participated in NBA Academy Africa, played in exhibition games, visited a museum and ate the local fare.
“Doing projects like this, I don’t know what is going to come from this,” Rose said. “But I know the kids will be able to go into the next stage of their life with more comfort. I hope they’re inspired by the trip. But at the same time, before they reach their college campus, they will already have the culture shock of going somewhere. They will be at ease going on a college campus.”
Rose is also a chess aficionado. He announced April 18 that he is launching and hosting the inaugural “Chesstival” chess tournament and festival at Resorts World Las Vegas that will debut July 7-8. The event will feature celebrities, pro athletes and musicians competing in a high-stakes series chess tournament.
Rose was introduced to chess in junior high and became an avid player when he used the game for mental engagement while recovering from injuries in the NBA. It’s not uncommon for him to bring a chess game with him on Knicks road trips.
“The game of chess is something I’ve been passionate about since high school,” Rose said in a statement. “Chess is undeniably competitive and strategic at its core, which are two characteristics I’ve carried throughout my career. I am thrilled to bring Chesstival to life at Resorts World Las Vegas and continue to grow interest in chess worldwide.”