Reggie Rose Rumors
“You know what?” Reggie says, turning thoughtful, surrounded by reminders of his past. He thinks about Derrick, and how three years ago, his then-22-year-old brother was innocent and unafraid, the most valuable player in the NBA. “He knows that he will never get back to that,” Reggie says.
“His thing is wanting to be the same,” Rose’s brother, Reggie, says. Reggie finishes lunch and drives away, eventually making his way east on West 63rd Street. Thirteen years older, his domineering presence kept Derrick from being picked apart by the Gangster Disciples who controlled their neighborhood, then the parasitic runners and gatekeeping NCAA officials who controlled the avenues and mechanisms of escape. Nothing, not drug dealers or money-hungry basketball pimps or amateurism-guarding schoolmarms, would keep his brother stuck in Englewood. Traffic is thin as he crosses Halsted Street, with Kennedy-King College looking modern and alien at the intersection. Everything else is plywood and blight.
That’s the admission everyone has been digging for, but that’s not what he means: The new Derrick Rose is explosive and aggressive, but he’s coming back like Eve came back from the apple, mining intellectual and emotional depths he couldn’t have imagined when he first hurt his knee. He’s different now, for sure, maybe for better, maybe for worse. The old Derrick Rose is a casualty of the two injuries and the knowledge that came with them. “He’s gone,” Reggie says, and he sounds a little melancholy.
The two most obvious faces in the Rose Camp are his brother/manager, Reggie, and his agent, B.J. Armstrong. Reggie obviously did little to help his brother’s cause on Feb. 21, 2013, blasting the organization on the night of the trade deadline for its lack of movement. Never mind that Derrick Rose was still nursing a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, despite team doctors clearing him to return. It wasn’t the last time the organization would have problems with Reggie expressing his opinion. Then there’s Armstrong. The former Bulls guard and title winner worked for the organization under former general manager Jerry Krause. But when vice president of basketball operations John Paxson came in, Armstrong was demoted from his assistant GM post into a scouting position. Armstrong was completely out by 2005, reportedly unhappy with Paxson and the Bulls. The fact that Armstrong, who works for the Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles, became Rose’s agent was an obvious concern for the Bulls.
Reggie Rose, who is here watching his AAU team and catching the conclusion of the NBA Summer League, said the criticism his younger brother received for missing the season didn’t surprise anybody in Rose’s camp. “I knew he was going to get that backlash,” Reggie Rose said. “You got Chicago Bull fans who are going to cheer the team no matter what. Then you have Derrick Rose fans who only want to come to the game when Derrick plays. You’ll get the backlash, but I feel once he gets back on the court, all that stuff will stop and they’ll be cheering for him.”
The photos and video clips from Derrick Rose’s shoe promotional tour of Europe showed the light-hearted moments. The reality, according to Rose’s older brother and manager Reggie, involved a bit more perspiration. “He was getting up at 6:30 every morning and working out with (Bulls’ assistant strength and conditioning coach) Nick Papendieck,” Reggie Rose said Monday. “He has a positive attitude. He’s ready to go. Looking at his body, he’s really strong. The only thing he has to work on is cardio and getting in game shape. But that will come. I have no concerns about him physically.”
Asked about the perception that his inner circle of older brother Reggie Rose and agent B.J. Armstrong has influenced his decision, Rose acted incredulously. “Who said that? If anything, it’s up to me,” Rose said. “My brother and them can’t tell me what to do with my body. They give me control. I’m in control of the whole process. It’s really all on me.” Asked what the benefit of sitting the entire season is, Rose said: “Being healthy. Health-wise, if I do take the whole year off and don’t play anymore, I know I’m going to come back a better player. I guess my body will be healed more but who knows?
Reggie told me Derrick’s friends call him “The General” because “when I come around I am always nagging and fussing.” Reggie said he simply wants Derrick to take care of his body and watch what he eats. “You can’t put 80-cent gasoline in a Ferrari,” Reggie preaches. “I think sometimes … he’s young, he can do that. But now I think he is going to eat right and listen a little bit more and just come back bigger, faster, stronger.”
“When (Derrick) jumped and fell down, I could see him pressing his knee like he was trying to push something back in,” Reggie told me then. “I was with my friend and I looked at him. He said: ‘What? He twisted his ankle?’ I said: ‘Naw, I think he tore his ACL.’ As soon as he did it, I kind of figured that was what it was. Just looking and knowing what happened to me … I tore mine in ’94. “Now, today with the medical stuff they have now, I think he has better physicians, better equipment and everything so he can come back strong.”
The same day Derrick Rose had surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee, his older brother Reggie Rose told me how a similar knee injury adversely affected his college basketball career. No doubt Reggie’s unfortunate experience is influencing Derrick’s decision to be extra cautious about when to return to the Bulls. Reggie never has said he was or could have been as good as Derrick, but he was not too shabby. He led the city in scoring as a 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior guard at Hubbard High School. Reggie was set to accept a scholarship offer to play at Cincinnati, but poor entrance test scores ruled out that possibility, according to news reports.
With that, Reggie Rose turned away to watch his brother’s Bulls teammates he disrespected get blown out by the defending NBA champs. It would be wrong to say Bulls players were distracted. It would be exaggerating to say Paxson or Forman were miffed; Paxson even tried making a joke. Frustrated or not, both officials stressed what everybody in the Bulls organization suggested: Those comments sound like Reggie but not Derrick, who Paxson said never has complained about the roster. Remember, Derrick was the guy who embraced the status quo enough to lobby publicly to keep Keith Bogans before the 2011-12 season. Keith Bogans.
“Reggie, do you have anything you want to add to your comments today?” I asked. “No comment,” he answered. “Do you regret anything you said?” “What would I regret?” “That you put Derrick in an uncomfortable spot.” “That’s my brother. That’s my brother who you say I put in an uncomfortable spot.” Reggie’s eyes widened and he paused. “Remember that!” he said. “No comment.”
Reggie’s unexpected, critical comments overshadowed the Bulls’ 86-67 loss to the Heat at the United Center and resonated so loudly that Derrick Rose felt compelled to issue a comment before tipoff. “I have always felt that the Bulls organization’s goals have been the same as mine and that is to bring another championship to this city,” Derrick said. The Bulls released the succinct, 25-word statement after team officials John Paxson and Gar Forman stopped Derrick in a hallway after a pre-game shootaround and ushered him into a private room. Five minutes later, D-Rose emerged but declined to comment as he breezed past reporters. Reggie Rose sat in his usual courtside seat behind the west basket and bristled when I approached him during a first-quarter timeout to discuss his inflammatory comments.
Reggie Rose, the older brother of Derrick, did acknowledge the team’s two all-stars, Deng and Joakim Noah, but suggested the Bulls should have made a move before the trade deadline. “I don’t know if it did (distract any players), but we didn’t talk about it as a team,” Deng said. I don’t think that was the problem.”
As far as what Thibodeau felt about Reggie’s comments, he dismissed them as one man’s opinion. “Obviously Reggie and Derrick are very close, and we share the same concerns about Derrick’s health,’’ Thibodeau said. “So that’s not anything new, and Reggie is entitled to his own opinion. “To me it’s not a big deal. Hey, we all want the same things. We want Derrick’s health and we’re trying to pursue winning a championship, so we share that in common. That’s his opinion. He speaks for himself, not a big deal.’’
“Joakim Noah is a great player. Luol Deng is a great player. But you need more than that. You have to put together pieces to your main piece. The players can only do so much. It’s up to the organization to make them better. … It’s frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him.” Coincidentally, the Rose-less Bulls host the Heat tonight at the United Center after already beating them in their first meeting of the season, 96-89, back on Jan. 4. “We’ve had great communication with Derrick, and we’ve never heard anything like that from Derrick,’’ Paxson said prior to the meeting with Derrick. “And that’s all that matters.
Reggie Rose believes Derrick Rose is close to playing this season, but he has to be ready in all facets before that happens. “We can’t give a timetable on it,” Reggie Rose said. “It’s up to Derrick. … It’s a possibility [he could miss the season]. It’s about Derrick’s career. If he plays in the first game and aggravates the injury, what are they going to say about him coming back too soon? “This isn’t a quick decision. This is a career decision. It’s not about just making the playoffs. It’s about my little brother’s career. He has to be ready physically and mentally. I want him to be in a position not to fail and let everyone down.”
Reggie Rose said the Bulls have known all along Rose could sit out this season but the organization hasn’t mentioned it because it would affect ticket sales. “Everyone is expecting Derrick to come back,” Reggie Rose said. “If Derrick comes back, they’re going to sell more tickets. Is the reason for Derrick to come back to win a championship or make money? Right now, I don’t believe a championship. Everything in the NBA is financial.”
The Bulls stood pat at Thursday’s trade deadline. “It’s frustrating to see my brother play his heart and soul out for the team and them not put anything around him,” Reggie Rose said.
“What have you pieced together? Have you made any moves? Have you made any trades to get better? You know all roads to the championship lead through Miami,” Reggie Rose told ESPNChicago.com. “What pieces have you put together for the physical playoffs? “Joakim Noah is a great player. Luol Deng is a great player. But you need more than that. You have to put together pieces to your main piece. The players can only do so much. It’s up to the organization to make them better.”