Derrick Rose had an awful Eastern Conference Finals, prompting this trope: “It’s not his fault, he can’t do it all by himself!”
As a person, Derrick should not require a defense. He’s young, he’s allowed to have a learning curve, permitted to have a bad series. But, that is a different assessment from claiming Rose was doing great work out there while everyone else failed him.
In part, such rationalizations come from those who over zealously overrated the kid. For them, confirmation bias bellows: “I could not have been wrong, but instead, my Most Valuable Player choice was somehow undermined!”
Well, the reigning MVP shanked 35% from the field, 29% from beyond the arc. He eked 117 points on 120 shots. And while the playoffs should not be a referendum on regular season awards, this flameout was illustrative of why the “best player” talk was somewhere between premature and objectively stupid.
But, despite all the bricks, turnovers and crunch time gaffes, Rose was failing correctly. He was screwing up actively, dominating the ball. We tend to respect the guy who takes shots and D-Rose lobbed an average of 24 of them. Of course, all that chucking compounds the “35% from the field” issue. The superstar might well have better helped his team as a passive “role player,” only shooting when absolutely necessary. But I wonder: Would media members be making excuses for Rose had he hurt his team less by taking far fewer shots? Or would they rip him for not “going down swinging”?
A year ago, LeBron James suffered an infamous failure versus the Boston Celtics. His “Game 5” was a tepid 14 field goal attempt, 15 point absence of a performance. Though James added seven assists and six rebounds, his passivity stoked outrage. Though James had a much better series than Derrick Rose just had, we won’t remember it that way. He failed incorrectly, leading to a dreaded “quitter” tag. I wonder, would James have been judged less severely had he taken 30 shot attempts in that blowout?
For a star: It seems that removing a teammate’s ability to help you is the best way to ensure that media will claim you need more help. The surrounding Bulls did not cover themselves in glory, but they likely deserved more chances at getting it. Derrick Rose got plenty of help this series, almost exclusively on the defensive end. For some odd reason, this support is deemed trivial, and the main focus is on the lack of help provided by players who shot better than Rose.
If graded on an age curve, the 22 year-old superstar is beyond reproach. But, his recent performance is worthy of criticism–in a vacuum. Derrick Rose evades much of that criticism because he failed in a spectacular, aggressive manner.
Follow Ethan @SherwoodStrauss
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