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Derrick Rose finally gets angry, about seven years too late

Derrick Rose was fierier in one day with the Timberwolves than he was in eight years with the Bulls. His fiery might be somebody else’s dying ember, but it was good to see another side of him, a somewhat combative side, a side that seemed sick and tired of the verbal abuse he has taken for years.

I wish he had shown that years ago.

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Rose signed with Minnesota last week, and he had plenty to say about the people who want to see him fail. Some – many? – of them are Bulls fans who believe he sat out too long with injuries in Chicago and spent more time concerned with his off-court future than his on-court present.

Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose in action against the Warriors on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

“This is how I feel about it, the whole perspective on it,” Rose told ESPN.com. “You could have your perspective on me, as far as I’m a bum, I can’t play, I can’t shoot, this and that, all right, cool, I have no hard feelings with that. I’m cool with that. [If] that’s how you feel, that’s how you feel, but at the same time, I don’t need your f—ing validation. I know who I am, I know what type of player I am. So you respect that and I respect that [point of view] and we should be good. That’s how I feel about it.”

Wow. I can’t recall Rose ever responding that way as a Bull. He had plenty of opportunities and a right to do it. If there has been a more abused star in Chicago sports history, I don’t know who it would be. If he had stood up for himself more, he might have earned back some of the respect of those fans. If he had said, “I don’t need their respect,’’ that would have been even better.

He allowed himself to be a punching bag when he was with the Bulls. It was the strangest thing. The guy who drove fearlessly, recklessly to the hoop was a pacifist when it came to responding to criticism.

When he spoke Saturday, it wasn’t a declaration of war, but he sure sounded fed up with the people who think his career is effectively over at 29.

“It’s a joke,” he said. “It’s a joke. I can’t take it too serious where like I said if you don’t know who you are you could easily get caught up into the mix of wanting to defend yourself, but I don’t need to do that because a lot of people’s grudges with me or they dislike me. It’s like [for] personal reasons, you know what I mean? Or jealousy or something like that, so I take it for what it is and just laugh at it and smile at it because I don’t need that karma to even speak on them or even waste my energy trying to defend myself with people like that.”

There are two parts to the Rose equation. The first is that he was his own worst enemy as a public speaker. He didn’t come across well, and he was absolutely oblivious to that fact. It was one thing to be injured, which Rose was often; it was another to frame the importance of good health in terms of what it could do for him later in life. He seemed more concerned about being able to attend business meetings and his son’s graduation down the road than he was about helping the Bulls win a championship. It sounded awful.

I’m convinced that things would have gone differently for him in Chicago if he had said this while rehabbing after his first knee injury: “I respect what the team doctors are saying, but I know my body. They don’t. The knee feels weak right now, and I can’t help my team like this. And if you think you’re tougher than me, meet me out in the alley.’’

The second part of the equation is that Chicago’s reaction to his injuries was incredibly disproportionate. Here was a Chicago kid who won the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player award, and the city turned on him when he didn’t come back from his torn anterior cruciate ligament as quickly as it thought he should. Thanks for everything, kid.

He couldn’t stay healthy. Boiled down, that’s what this is all about. We got mad at him for the silly things he said and we wasted our time arguing about whether he should have played hurt, but the bottom line is that he was an injury waiting to happen. Those mad rushes to the basket had a cumulative effect on his body.

I wish he had gotten mad at us for being mad at him years ago. It would have been good for all involved.