It just doesn’t happen that way. Not here. Not in sports. It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who pondered, « There are no second acts in American life, » and he wrote it in 1932, which means he probably wasn’t referring to basketball players.
But Derrick Rose refutes that. What Rose has done in 29 games as Knick this year is to completely rewrite his legacy as Knick. He permanently changed the narrative of his first stay here in 2016-17 when he contributed 64 mostly unfortunate games for a 31-51 Knicks team that didn’t even leave a lasting memory for the city’s basketball posterity.« He’s having fun every time he steps here, » says Taj Gibson, three times Rose’s team-mate for the Knicks and the Bulls and the Timberwolves. « He always smiles. »
The first time there were few smiles. On Sunday night in Houston, MSG-TV captured a lovely moment in which Rose was chatting with Jeff Hornacek, who is now the Rockets’ assistant but was previously his trainer with the Knicks. They hugged and giggled. While you couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, you can imagine it went something like this:
You can’t blame Phil Jackson for everything from four years ago, no matter how fun it may be. Rose had many of his own problems. He called in late about a civil lawsuit he was involved in, he joined the AWOL, he was mostly grumpy and most nights looked like the best days of his career were in his rearview mirror. Sure, he was booed in the garden, but even that felt subdued, like he wasn’t even worthy of contempt.
It’s bloody impossible to believe this is the same player we’ve seen for the past few months . A terribly smart reader named Steve Simenri asked the other day, Did a player in New York ever go to the city where they were so unpopular for the first time and then head back into town and become a fan favorite?
We’ve had popular players returning for a winning lap – think Mark Messier with the Rangers, Tino Martinez and Andy Pettitte with the Yankees, Jose Reyes, Hubie Brooks and David Cone with the Mets. Mark Jackson with the curtsey. Tom Seaver returned as a victorious hero in 1983 before a typo allowed the White Sox to steal him a year later.
We’ve had players who did their legacy a disservice by heading to town for a second tour have returned. You can put Darrelle Revis at the top of this list. Nobody longed for Roger Clemens’ 6-6, 4.18 epilogue year with the 2007 Yankees. A quirky and philanthropic bully, Dave Kingman I became Dave Kingman II.
There were some happy ending returns. Lee Mazzilli had some crucial postseason bats for the 86 Mets after starring (and languishing) in the team’s Grant’s Tomb version in the late 1970s. Claude Lemieux returned upset to the 2000 Devils five years after his departure and his fingerprints can be seen on the first two Stanley Cups.
And then there are those who made a bad first impression and a worst second impression. We can name this trophy after Bobby Bonilla, who threatened to show a reporter The Bronx as the Met and showed utter indifference by playing clubhouse cards his second time during an elimination game. Javy Vazquez will certainly be mentioned there with honor. If Richard Todd had made his second round of the Jets in 1986, so would he.
No, Rose is standing alone. For one thing, he just plays better. He shot .217 out of 3; It’s now at 400. His Sales Support Rate then was 4.4-2.3; it is now 4.1-1.2. His player efficiency rating? At that time it was 17.0, today it was 18.5. At that time he had 3.0 shares of the profit, 2.3 in less than half of the games. We could keep listing numbers. « He was always a team-first guy and the winner was always on the front line. He was always a great team-mate, » said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. « He’s happy when other people succeed. He’s happiest when the team wins. And whether he gets two points or 20 points, he’s the same guy. » Rose says, « The story is insane , but I’m just glad to still be here and play decent basketball. I’m very grateful. «
It can’t be crazy. But it’s unique. Derrick Rose’s second act is so good as if the first never existed. It’s better that way.
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Ebene Magazine – We’ve never seen anything like Derrick Rose’s second Knicks act