A week ago, Beckley and I parsed the notion of Derrick Rose. Certain readers were angry at the personalities within our schizoid dialogue, particularly the Derrick-hating takes. Some mistook a conversation for an argument. To those, I say, “Here’s your argument.” Not only do I think Rose overrated, I think him the potential Perfect Storm of Overrated. It’s written with no hate in my heart, I love watching D-Rose just as much as you do–which is in part why he’s the P.S.O. With Noah out, I expect the “Rose for MVP” chant to mute as the Bulls slide to a 5th seed. But the chant will reverberate across the future, for reasons listed below:
Big Market: Market size is measurable, influential. The “Second City” might actually be third, but the bronze medal is enormous. If Chicago was a female kangaroo, it could easily fit the Oklahoma City metro area inside Chi-town’s marsupial pouch. Chicago could even jump high, higher than Joakim Noah’s arc. But that wouldn’t be safe–like making bad puns a stone’s throw from comment sections.
Great Aesthetics: This is impossible to measure, fun to describe. I call Derrick “close-range Kobe,” as my girlfriend wonders what I’m screaming in my sleep. Bryant boasts an ability to make thrilling, difficult, long-range jumpers. When Kobe drains double-teamed fadeaways, fans gasp. Then, they exhale the air that inflates Bryant’s legend past the point of fact. It’s because every impossible shot delivers an adrenaline jolt, a Pavlovian fist-pump–and most importantly, a memory. Our brains cling to that moment over one hundred effective Pau hook shots. We recall what surprises, credit the shocking-jock.
As Henry Abbott points out, Rose specializes in the thrilling, shifty, contact-avoiding layup. It’s memorable for all the reasons Kobe’s long-distance bombs are. By the time Derrick’s shot ricochets off glass, our brains have already tricked us into over-loving his trickery. How can we blame that brain? How could any human being turn that flying contortion into points? D-Rose as “number one point guard” is a lie, inspired by an optical illusion.
One-and-Done: It could also be called “The Truman Show” effect. This is a recent development, crying out for more research. And it is my subjective belief: Highly-drafted one-and-dones get a boosting, cult following throughout an NBA career. If those freshman claim deep March Madness runs, that cult is religion-sized.
Perhaps this is why we relate to Greg Oden’s pain, while snickering at Kwame Brown. “Diaper dandies” rocket like comets through college ball, leaving NCAA fans yearning. The single-year wonders possess a cachet among the casual NBA fans who watch dandies, post-diaper.
Derrick has an early, nationally culled fanbase. They liked him from his Memphis Final Four run, they’ll take joy in his professional progression. The public invests in Truman’s growth, even if he doesn’t know it.
Scoring: Fans value a point over a rebound, though one point is roughly equivalent to one board. This is Pavlov again, watching us salivate whenever the net swishes, whenever the lit numbers morph into something new. Oh, and Rose does that thing. He’s shooting and scoring more than any point guard in the league.
Winning: KOBE HAS FIVE RINGS! KOBE HAS FIVE RINGS! FIVE! FIVE! COUNT THE RINGS! Rose has yet to capture ALL CAPS blanket defenses like this, but he very well could. The Bulls have great talent and a defensive wizard for a coach. If championships aren’t a promise, they certainly are an expectation.
Rose could be a five-pronged attack on our senses, not rivaled since Kobe rode Pau to revisionist history. If the loaded Bulls can win rings, D-Rose might have the biggest gap between accomplishment and collective praise since the invention of lying.
Before you get mad, I ask: “So what if he’s overrated?” Shouldn’t we cherish what makes a player memorable? Maya Angelou famously stated, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Many people will remember how Rose made them feel. He takes shots and turns them into your joyous amazement. And that collective experience is powerful–even if I try to pick at the ballooning myth. To quote another poet, Jay-Z once rhetorically asked “Would you rather be underpaid or overrated?” Would you rather your favorite player be underpraised or overrated?