This afternoon I sat down at my computer to write a blog. I had it titled “Being Johnny Football: #ItsComplicated,” and the content outlined in my head. In the hopes of finding a few articles to cite in my blog, I pulled up twitter only to find a Richard Roeper retweet of a Chicago Sun-Times article about Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
The tweet read, “Derrick Rose on Chicago violence: ‘it all starts with poverty.’”
I thought, wait a minute… a superstar athlete is publicly discussing a pertinent social issue and offering meaningful insight? This, I have to see.
Blocked from reading the article because I’m not a Sun-Times subscriber, I did a quick Google search and was surprised to see a CNN interview in which Rose made these comments was five days old, yet this was the first I had heard of it.
Check out the first few sentences of the CNN article:
"NBA star Derrick Rose has spoken out about gun crime in his hometown of Chicago and identified poverty as its root cause.
"The Chicago police department recorded 506 murders in 2012 — with estimates that about 80 percent were gang related, while there have been 185 murders on record up until July 3rd this year.
“‘It all starts out from poverty,’ Rose, who grew up in the city’s impoverished South Side district of Englewood, told CNN.”
Perhaps the article and video clips from the interview got lost in the ocean of George Zimmerman coverage. But the “not guilty” verdict quickly popped race, gun laws and violence back up to the surface, so much so that crime in Chicago was often included in the Zimmerman conversation.
Instead of seeing or hearing anything whatsoever about Rose’s comments in the last five days, we’ve been saturated with Dwight Howard’s press conference in Houston, whisperings of Major League Baseball potentially punishing Alex Rodriguez for alleged PED use, a magazine cover photo and most egregiously, the life and times of 20-year-old Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
Chicago, we’ll raise your 506 murdered folk with this 558-word article dissecting and grading Manziel’s Wednesday press conference at SEC Media Day. The two topics certainly seem congruent in terms of real life impact and importance right?
It would be simplistic and naive not to consider the fact that the college football machine is just a tad more profitable than murder victims in urban Chicago, which likely contributes to the disparity in media coverage. But one would think that attaching the famous face of Rose to this issue might buy it more appeal.
After all, Google search “Derrick Rose crying” and you’ll get countless hits from major news outlets to personal blogs commenting on the video of Rose becoming emotional during a press conference at which he launched his new Adidas shoe.
Google search “Derrick Rose chicago gun violence” and this is all that comes up:
In the paparazzi/Internet age of celebrities lacking any inkling of privacy and straying from the “role model” tag, it’s surprising that we are ignoring one of the few megastars who embraces it.
Rose told CNN, “I’m young, but for some reason, people tend to listen to me, especially the younger kids.
"Just knowing where I grew up and what I had to go through to get where I’m at today. Being a role model, of course, that’s what I try to do.
"I try to stay positive, just really trying to bring hope to my city, where of course, we’re going through so much stuff with crime."
Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan (among other globally recognized athletes) have often been criticized for refusing to publicly take a stand on social/political issues, yet when a high profile athlete finally steps up to the plate, we turn a blind eye. Heck, Jordan’s father was shot to death, and I couldn’t find any trace of the international icon discussing gun violence in South Carolina, Chicago or elsewhere.
Fans, reporters and pundits alike were quick to speculate about Rose’s return from a knee injury (understandably so in many cases), blanketing social media and traditional news platforms with coverage over the past year.
Rose’s mental state was picked apart on national television time after time last season, yet I haven’t seen his recent interview mentioned on cable sports networks, nor any discussion a few months ago of Rose’s offer to cover funeral costs for a 6-month-old girl shot and killed in Chicago.
When asked what he can do as an individual to help combat gun violence in his native Chicago, Rose told CNN, “I’m just trying to bring that positive energy back, bring that excitement back, so that we can get it back on the right track.”
The media so often judges the priorities of others, questioning why those who seem to have it all can’t stay on the right track. Isn’t it only fair that we ask the same of ourselves?
Sports fans often obliterate the boundaries of good taste when supporting their teams. The free, fun-loving nature of the games which we all grew up playing sure seems to have a regressive impact on adults, doesn’t it?
It’s a fine line to walk, but whomever created the billboard below nailed this tightrope act with expert precision.
Complex Magazine posted photos of an electronic billboard in Chicago featuring a rotation of creative images supporting the city’s pro sports teams. Joakim Noah -the Bulls’ most eccentric and interesting player since Dennis Rodman- is shown blasting a grimacing LeBron James with a fire extinguisher.
I’m actually laughing just typing this up right now….The look on LeBron’s face is priceless.
Sure, it was only ONE playoff game in which Noah and the rest of the depleted-yet-not defeated Bulls shocked the defending champs, but the fans and city should savor every single moment they can.
Kudos to whomever created these ads. Aside from a burst of carbon dioxide to the face, the “Noah extinguishes LeBron” image (as well as the pro-Blackhawks billboard) is hilarious without hurting anyone’s feelings.
If anything, the billboard will add fuel to the Heat’s fire heading into Game 2.
Without Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, that billboard might be the last we see of the Bulls putting the Heat on blast.
After last season’s transformation under then-rookie head coach Tom Thibodeau, 2011-2012 was supposed to be “the” season in which Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls would fully bloom into a team that could legitimately challenge the Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.
But something was wrong from the start.
First and foremost was the NBA lockout which kept many players away from their typical off-season workout and conditioning programs in efforts to adjust to an unknown timetable of when the season might start up again. This affected every player.
Then, Rose was the passenger in a car when his buddy, the driver, was pulled over and arrested for DUI. While Rose wasn’t in any trouble personally, surely the incident shook the quiet 23-year-old who goes out of his way to keep his personal life private.
But things seemed to turn around in late December as Rose agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a whopping $94.8 million just days before the start of a shortened NBA season.
The much-deserved reward from his Chicago bosses would prove be the high point of Rose’s season which turned ugly quite quickly as the All-Star guard suffered a myriad of injuries.
Toe, back, groin foot and ankle injuries forced Rose to miss 27 of the Bulls’ 66 regular season games. Rose had only missed six games in his first three NBA seasons combined.
The Bulls logged a respectable 18-9 record without Rose and held on for the No. 1 seed in the East, despite the frequent absence of their superstar.
It was only fitting, in sports’ version of a cruel shakespearean tragedy, that Rose would wilt for good late in his team’s first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, sidelined for up to eight months with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Kyle Korver said after the game, “It’s the saddest win,” as Rose’s teammates were clearly shell-shocked by the severity of his injury and the impact it would have on what was, just minutes earlier, a postseason full of promise and potential.
Leading the series against the 76ers 1-0, the Bulls have enough talent to dispose of Philadelphia, even without Rose. As fate would have it, Rose’s teammates are fairly used to playing without him, having figured out a system that worked well enough in the regular season. Chicago’s stellar defense, combined with adrenaline and the competitive spirit will propel the Bulls for the rest of this series against an inconsistent 76ers team.
It’s the long-term prognosis that is worrisome for the Rose-less Bulls.
While the Bulls beat Miami once and Boston twice without Rose during the regular season, a seven-game playoff series is a completely different animal.
Rose is so important to the Bulls not just because of the points he puts up, but because of the opponent’s perception of him as a scoring threat, forcing double teams which allows open looks for his Bulls teammates.
Who will opponents double team now? It won’t be Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah. They SHOULD be the guys drawing a double team but they won’t be because neither is consistent offensively warranting the additional attention. Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver certainly won’t draw the double team, thus the big guys shouldn’t get many easy scoring opportunities down low.
Ideally, opponents tried to force Rose to shoot outside instead of driving the lane, the place where he often put on a spectacular show while having his way with the defense. With veteran guard C.J. Watson set to start in Rose’s place, the defense will strive for the opposite in forcing Watson closer to the rim rather than allowing him to shoot from his comfort zone outside of the key.
This will be Luol Deng’s time to shine, even brighter than he has already this season. He has to make good choices and consistently execute offensively. Boozer, whose biggest knock as a pro has been that he doesn’t play up to his potential, finally has the chance to prove the haters wrong by stepping up and leading my example.
The biggest challenge for Chicago, in this series at least, will likely be mental, not physical. Losing your MVP can shatter one’s psyche. The Bulls have to find a way to quickly shake off the stench of losing Rose and focus on the immediate task, which is the 76ers.
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Breaking up after 10 years together would be tough, regardless of the circumstances, and Theo Epstein’s split with the Red Sox was just the icing on a cake which had already melted into a big, ugly mess in previous weeks. Despite a disastrous situation by sports standards, the former Red Sox general manager and executive vice president left Boston with a classy, parting gift as he heads to Chicago. Take a look at this full-page ad the native son took out in Sunday’s Boston Globe, thanking the fans, players, coaches and front office staff of the team he dreamed of working for as a kid.
After assembling two World Series Championship teams and ending an 86-year drought, any competitive, driven, perfectionist would jump at the chance to take on the Cubs’ North American sports team-record 103-year drought; especially given the way things unraveled with the Red Sox.
But Epstein isn’t just any competitive, driven, perfectionist. He is a graduate of Brookline High School, just a few miles away from Fenway Park. Epstein’s family roots run deep in the Boston community and his son was born in the city that haled him a hero and miracle worker for what he helped accomplish within the confines of the Green Monster and famous red clay.
I can only imagine that for him to leave his hometown and life as he knows it, Epstein must have thought there was no way he could repair his Red Sox, and that perhaps, they weren’t even his anymore.
There will be no more five minute cab rides to FuGaKyu Restaurant on Beacon Street. No more sitting in the seats of an empty Fenway Park, the same seats in which he sat as a child rooting for his home team, soaking up the summer sun while watching the guys practice in the afternoons before night games.
Chicago is a wonderful city, and the Cubbies have their own fantastic traditions and folklore. But as friendly and iconic as the ivy may be at Wrigley, it will never be like home.
(For a less-fuzzy look at the ad, click here: http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/assets_c/2011/10/609Theo_thank_you-thumb-609x1100-53948.jpg )