Bulls: Rose’s Homecoming — Was He Ever Appreciated?

WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA

Last week, Kevin Durant topped NBA’s “must-watch” list when his new team, the Golden State Warriors, played their first meeting against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The new, Russell Westbrook-led Thunder struggled and Durant took advantage and bragging rights in their first reunion, scoring an emphatic 39 points, including 17 in the second quarter. But this past Friday night all eyes were on the return of former Bulls players Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose as the Knicks played the Bulls at the Madhouse on Madison. Rose finished the game with 15 points and 11 assists.

Rose’s homecoming was emotional. As a South Sider and former Simeon Career Academy prospect, Rose dedicated his blood, sweat and tears to Chicago Bulls basketball the past eight years.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rose told CBS-Chicago’s Cody Westerlund. “I love competing. The crowd was into it.”

Now that he has started a new journey in New York, Friday night showed that Bulls fans still had some mixed appreciations for Rose and his efforts throughout his hometown tenure.

During introductions and throughout the game, Noah received nothing but love. Rose, however, received a mix of cheers and boos. That was something Rose unfortunately expected.

“I knew there was going to be some yells, going to be some boos,” said Rose. “…I’ve been getting it ever since I was in sixth grade, going on the West Side, playing the West Side and we being from the South Side. So I’m used to it.”

As I watched the game and heard the booing, my first thought was why? For everything Rose did for the Bulls franchise, we should thank him. Yes, he only played 49 games between 2011 and 2014 due to significant injuries and the last couple seasons he wasn’t fully himself coming back from those injuries. But is it fair to use only his down years to write the overall script of Rose’s tenure in Chicago?

Rose experienced success during his time with the Bulls. He was a three time all-Star (2010-12), Rookie of the Year and all-NBA Rookie Team (2008-09), all-NBA First Team and League MVP (2010-11). And let us not forget how he carried a stagnant franchise on his shoulders, elevated it back to elite status, emerged as the most elite face of the franchise since Michael Jordan, and led the Bulls to multiple playoff visits and the Eastern Conference Finals within the Tom Thibodeau era.

No championships came out this, but are those accomplishments not worth remembering? Have we focused so much of our attention on his downside that we can’t appreciate what he brought to this legendary franchise?

Rose was everyone’s favorite player when he was healthy and the team was winning. Once he gets injured and doesn’t fully recover he gets divorced from his city and mistreated. It is amazing how deeply winning changes the dimensions of love and hate.

I understood Chicago’s frustrations and reasoning why he had to go, but he should have never been booed at his homecoming. If a Bulls fan thought it right to boo Rose in his homecoming game, then maybe they were never a true fan of him at all.

Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042

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