At 28, Derrick Rose still hasn’t grown up
Remember when we all were madly in love with Derrick Rose?
Remember when he was the hottest, freshest, most positive thing in the NBA, let alone hometown Chicago?
It wasn’t that long ago, you know — 2011 — when he became the youngest MVP in NBA history. Only 22. Gonna lead the Bulls forever.
It seems every year that goes by, the 6-3, 28-year-old point guard from Englewood — currently with the New York Knicks — reveals himself to be a little more fundamentally disconnected from the values, expectations, rituals and demands of being a superstar athlete performing in a business measured by talent, effort, behavior and desire.
You do not, for example, skip a game, as Rose did Monday night, because there was, as Rose stated, ‘‘a family issue’’ back in Chicago.
You just don’t do that.
Or if you do — and, yes, serious family problems can come up for all of us — you get permission to be absent from management, and you make sure your coach, teammates, general manager, ball boy, whoever, know what’s up.
None of which Rose did Monday, when he simply didn’t appear for the Knicks’ home game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
His excuse was lame, dim-witted, lacking a basic sense of cause-effect.
“I didn’t want any distractions to the team,’’ he said of why he told no one he was leaving.
Is it possible that in some time/space continuum a team’s star point guard can vanish without a word and nobody notices? This could be where Rose lives.
He certainly does not hang out in a galaxy where adult decisions are made routinely by adults who do not get charged with (and acquitted of) sexual assault, who do not mumble about how hard they’re trying to come back from injuries, then are rumored to not be trying hard at all, who say things that can only be interpreted as the words of someone who doesn’t care all that much.
Back in the day, we all loved Rose’s hell-for-leather attacking style on the court. But he’s not what he used to be, and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has benched him at crunch time recently, largely because his decision-making, leadership and defensive skills are suspect.
That’s not good, and you can imagine how wonderful it is when you throw in career non-champion Carmelo Anthony as the other veteran Knicks star.
Knicks president and former Bulls guru Phil Jackson, a septuagenarian who should be sniffing flowers in a verdant field but now must be racked by Dennis Rodman flashbacks, has made no comment on the Rose situation. This can’t be how Jackson saw his curtain call ending up.
Hornacek has acted as though everything’s fine now that Rose is back — courtesy of a private jet arranged by the Knicks — and has said Rose could start the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
“His explanation with the family is totally understandable,” Hornacek said.
How do you discipline a star who makes $21 million a year? Fine him a little bit is what the Knicks did. Ow.
Back in the early days, Rose’s transgressions were seemingly minor and those of a kid, which is what we always called him. We always tried to make kindly sense of what he said because he was from a tough, impoverished background, reinterpreting his words so that the blame for saying, for instance, he wouldn’t risk his knees just for basketball became reasonable.
He didn’t really mean what he said, was our cover-up.
But when does that forgiveness end?
You know, it’s possible Rose doesn’t really want to play basketball anymore. It’s also possible that the MVP award he got wasn’t deserved — over LeBron James? — and that being a star so soon destroyed him. Or kept him from figuring out what the world is all about.
On Rose’s official website, there’s an ad for an apparel line that features this statement: ‘‘We’re All Just a Kid From Somewhere.’’
We are, indeed. Until we grow up and become adults, and act as such.
Before his rape trial in September, Rose said he wasn’t worried because ‘‘I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong, and I can’t let that distract me . . .’’
He added, ‘‘My concern is just playing well this year.’’
Of his latest unexcused absence, Rose said on Tuesday: ‘‘This wasn’t me.’’
Yes, it was.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.