Derrick Rose's Tragic Repeat Injury Reminds Us Sports Aren't Fair, Either
The cruel, bad luck of it all must have called into question every deeply held belief about the world and how to navigate its obstacles... While the first injury prompted worries about his body, the second seemed to prompt worries about the entire nature of things. Even the redemptive quality of hard work finally exposed itself as a shiny lie.
That's an excerpt from Wright Thompson's profile on Derrick Rose for ESPN The Magazine in October, a preview piece for the start of this NBA season.
With the recent announcement Rose might miss the rest of the year with yet another knee injury, it's just as relevant today.
Derrick Rose suffering a meniscus tear in his right knee is probably the saddest report we'll see this season, and one most NBA fans had reason to dread all year.
You didn't have to be a Chicago Bulls fan to fear what eventually happened to the three-time All-Star. All you really needed was an appreciation of the game of basketball and some sympathy.
The former would have you feeling sad for the player, a hometown hero who grew up in the rough streets of Chicago and rose to becoming the NBA's youngest MVP.
The latter, more importantly, would have you feeling sorry for the man.
Can you even imagine?
Over the past three years, Derrick Rose faced an ACL tear during the first game of a 2012 playoff run with real championship potential and then sat out the next season and 2013 playoffs just so everything could be absolutely perfect for his return and run at the 2014 title, only to have the other knee breakdown after just 10 games back.
And he went through all of it with his fair share of critics, too.
Despite having the courage to attempt to regain his form as the player who drove downhill ferociously and attacked the rim fearlessly -- the very reason, some would say, he was prone to these injuries -- Rose was criticized when he had the audacity to take a rest and make sure he had the fitness to even become that player again.
As he began to resemble the old Derrick Rose before the All-Star break, highlighted by a 30-point performance against LeBron James and the Cavs, he'd assembled all the elements of the redemption story many aspire to in their lives.
There was the enduring hard work Rose diligently put it at rehab, despite suffering many setbacks.
There was his mental strength shutting out the criticism and the jokes thrown at him as he approached his method of returning in a way he felt was mature.
Many of life's clichés were manifested in the form of his return to greatness: Never give up, keep believing and always have faith in yourself.
What Rose got instead was another knee injury, one that will almost certainly rule him out for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
Much like Thompson said, you wouldn't blame him for questioning the redemptive quality of hard work in life or sports. And for some, the latter might be harder to come to grips with.
We like to often think sports are a dimension separate from "real life" and, because of that, separate from all life's troubles.
The sports world is supposed to be the place where everything is fair, where everyone is treated equally and the winners and losers deserve what they get.
But, every so often, something or someone, like a Derrick Rose, happens, and we're reminded our most cherished fantasy world isn't as immune to tragedy as we think it is.
That is a reality that feels even more sobering when you consider Rose's words during media day in September:
I just want to be healthy. I think that's the only thing I'm worrying about right now. I could care less about the awards. I could care less about any accolades or whatever. I don't care about it. I just want to go out there and win games.
Those who appreciate what Rose brings to basketball would agree, but we don't always get what we want.
That's just a simple rule of life and, yes, sports.