In an interview with NBC Sports Chicago’s Will Perdue, Derrick Rose reflected on a range of personal and Bulls-related topics — from his success in Chicago, to his maturation since leaving, to his friendship with Joakim Noah.
But perhaps the most poignant — and relevant to the present-day NBA — excerpt of their sit-down came in Rose’s assessment of the concept of load management. That strategy has been employed by a number of the game’s brightest stars to both mitigate against the risk of injury and keep themselves fresh for potential postseason action.
“It was just a different time in the sports world, period,” Rose said. “Now, we have the term load management. I don’t think I would have taken it as far as Kawhi [Leonard] as far as they’re really being cautious about his injury or whatever he has. But if load management would have been around, who knows? I probably would have still been a Chicago Bull right now.”
His invoking of the Bulls will catch eyes, but really, Rose is assessing the state of his basketball legacy even beyond Chicago. The latter part of his Bulls tenure, after all, was fraught with injuries, controversies and a strained relationship with the media. That followed him in the years after his departure and marred the perception of his entire career, a career that — at its beginning — was on track to being on par with the all-time greats.
Rose addressed his guardedness with the press, stemming from speculation and criticism regarding his decision to sit out the 2012-13 season following surgery to repair the first of his three ACL tears after the 2012 playoffs.
“Once I got all that thrown on me and the way people were like coming at me, like you said I wanted to be stubborn. I wasn’t going to change who I was,” Rose said. “Why should I elaborate on an answer when I know you’re going to kill me in the paper the next day? Where I know that you don’t like me as a person, why should I give you my real answer? No, I’m going to act like I don’t want to talk to you. And that’s that.”
But Rose doesn’t appear to hold grudges, saying to Perdue that everything he did, he did in the interests of himself and his family. As a potential poster-child of the ‘what ifs’ that the load management era will evince, he offered detailed advice for Zion Williamson — flush with potential, hotly-anticipated, but already burdened with a meniscus tear that has yet prevented him from making his regular-season NBA debut. At one point among the most explosive athletes in the game and a subject of high expectations, Rose can somewhat relate to Williamson’s experience.
“First is your weight,” Rose said. “I remember playing for the USA teams and I think my second time we were going and seeing all these doctors and I was getting all these MRIs and I was still feeling pain in my knees certain days. It all came down to my weight. Nobody said nothing about my weight. I think I was around 212 or 214 (pounds) at the time. I was too heavy. It was the little things. I had to watch my diet. Once I watched my diet, I was fine. That was something I didn’t have to worry about.
“But Zion is in his own lane. Just being that heavy, playing the way that he plays, he’s explosive. He’s an athlete I think nobody never saw before. His path is going to be totally different than mine, you know what I mean? He has to, for one, learn the league. I had a chance to learn the league, play through my mistakes and I got injured Year 3 or 4. He got injured right away. So he has to learn his body right away, learn the league, learn what his skills are, work on his skills.”
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