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Bulls/NBA writer Joe Cowley on Derrick Rose: ‘I was wrong’

I was wrong about Derrick Rose.

That’s never a good way to start a column, but in this case, there’s no way around it.

Last January, I wrote a column about how it was all over for the one-time Bulls MVP. His brand was failing; his game had not evolved; his future was somewhere in China.

All true at the time.

I didn’t anticipate Rose recognizing he had hit NBA rock-bottom, humbling himself enough to change the way he was playing, then actually taking to the court and playing for someone other than himself.

He has done that this season in Minnesota, capped by a ridiculous 50-point performance in a victory Wednesday against Utah. It was a showcase of basketball skills not seen from Rose since before his knee injury, with some new tricks to boot.

In a recent interview with former Magic star Dennis Scott, Rose spoke about the evolution of his game, stressing how he has distinguished athleticism from recklessness.

More important, in talking to Timberwolves coaches about Rose — some of the same coaches he had in Chicago — he spent this offseason working on the fundamentals of his three-point shot. That’s a big difference from his rehab work in which he just shot three-pointers.

Taking three-pointers and working on them are completely different exercises.

Maybe that’s why the career 29.7 percent three-point shooter is making a career-best 34.6 through the first eight games this season.

“I did this for the franchise, the fans, the organization,’’ a teary Rose told reporters. “I’m doing everything just to win, and tonight was a hell of a night.’’

And there it was — finally.

“I’m doing everything just to win.’’

No talk about making it to business meetings and graduations, no concerns about all the “money guys are making’’ or “I’m thinking about long-term.’’

Just the kid from Englewood doing whatever it takes to win a basketball game. Playground days. Simeon High School days. The essence of the game before Adidas shoe deals and bad advice from his camp derailed Rose.

Rock-bottom is a powerful thing. It can change a man. It’s a change I didn’t believe Rose was capable of making.

He has.

This writing profession is based on expressing opinions. Opinions that often go wrong. This one has, and I’ll wear it.

There’s a misconception among some peers that what we write influences athletes. Trust me, it doesn’t. At least not the athletes who are worth a damn.

But there are readers who believe that and, even worse, narcissistic writers who believe their words influence performance and outcome. Some of them eventually figure out their folly, while the ignorant ones backdoor themselves into morning talk shows.

I’ve never been in that category. Rose never cared about my opinion when I covered him for four years, nor did I expect him to.

I expect my admittance to be sloughed off in the same manner.

When Tom Thibodeau signed Rose last offseason, I took it to be a case of a loyal coach just trying to save a guy’s career. After everything that has gone on in Minnesota this season, and after Wednesday’s 50, maybe it’ll prove to be the other way around.