Saturday, November 15, 2014

Give Derrick Rose a break


      I don't comment on professional sports much, because I have no depth of knowledge there.
     Besides, there are so many people already commenting about sports, there's little left unsaid, and it seems piling on to try.
     I do watch all the Bulls games, and have for several years.
     We try to go a few times a year—we went to the recent game against the Cavs, so my wife could lay eyes upon LeBron James.
    And I have actually met Derrick Rose. Quiet man. At least with the press. And for good reason.
     This is the thing about the media talking to athletes. 
     They're famous for spouting the lamest cliched crap. All that "team effort" bullshit, all those "we have to try to score more points than them while keeping them from scoring more than us" obviousness.
     Sometimes sports writers cry out for one sentence that is honest, this is real, that is heartfelt.
     And then Rose says something, regarding his limited playing time, that is both candid and sensible:
     “I feel I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out. But I think a lot of people don’t understand that when I sit out, it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to. I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. Just learning and being smart.’’
     Sure, in one sense that cuts across the sports ethic. You're supposed to dive headfirst for the ball, not worry about climbing stairs when you're 40. That's not what you pull down the millions for. 
     But you'd think he spat on the flag.
     "That's just flat-out stupid," Charles Barkley said on "Inside the NBA."“Derrick Rose is making $20 million a year. He’s got a couple of bad knees. That’s disrespectful to maids, people who are in the army who go out and kill people and get killed. They got no arms and no legs."
     Yes, some people supported him.
     "What an honest, reasonable and level-headed answer," Stephen Douglas wrote on "The Big Lead." 
     So there's no need for me to gild the lily here. I just wanted to observe the hypocrisy of this. Here every sports page in America is wondering aloud whether professional football should continue, given the toll taken by concussions, and at that exact moment one injury-plagued professional athlete admits he thinks about his life to come, and would like to avoid permanently crippling himself, and he's accused of lacking determination, which obviously isn't the case for Rose, who has laboriously built himself back, twice, while maintaining a dignified public demeanor. 
     Rose said he "couldn't care less" about the criticisms and I hope that's true. But it would seem to be the lesson here is keep your mouth shut and your true thoughts to yourself, and serve up the same bland bromides everybody else parrots. That's a sad lesson.



  1. That sad lesson is all pervasive, particularly in the political sphere. One of the reasons I like Barack Obama is that regardless of whether I agree with him or not he seems to be actually saying what he thinks rather than emitting bromides, slogans or predigested pablum.


  2. Tate O:

    I think you have it 180 degrees backwards with our current President.

    "If you like your insurance you can keep it."

    Have you been following the Professor Gruber controversy -- one of the chief architects of ObamaCare -- that it was specifically designed to fool the American People and the Congressional Budget Office?

  3. I agree with Mr. Steinberg's column.

    I believe it is morally indefensible for school administrators and parents to allow children to play grade school and high school tackle football.

    1. I don't think you got his point...nor mine.


  4. One had to admire the apblom with which Micael Jordan used to submit to all those post-game press conferences, answering again and again the same dumb questions with "the lamest cliched crap," but conveyed with a certain style. He was a good talker and seemed to know how to avoid controversy, at least in what he said to the press. But, of course, his performance on the court, if not in his persona life, also put him beyond controversy. I like the way the essayist Joseph Epstein, evidently a Bulls fan, characterized his hero: "Achilles, without the sulking or the heel."

  5. World record here for changing the subject to Obama.
    Also, the Gilded Lily Guild wants to get in touch. . .

  6. Much ado about nothing, IMHO. I understand Rose's attitude, and I understand why people would be upset about it. If he contributes to them winning a title, people aren't gonna spend too much time dwelling on this, though. If they under-perform, whatever that entails, there'll be plenty of sniping to go around. Look at what a Grade A buffoon Ditka is, but one Super Bowl victory (largely credited to Buddy Ryan, and out of the 3 or 4 that folks think that squad might have delivered) and he's still considered some kind of local hero and sage.

    I'm much more curious about our thoughtful host, Mr. "Sports is the same thing happening over and over again" watching every Bulls game. IIRC, this came to be because his sons expressed interest in the Bulls, so following them became a family activity. Which is swell, of course. It's just that the first 3 quarters of the average NBA game fit Neil's classic generalization pretty darn well, so I'm mystified as to how he can find watching every game entertaining. I hadn't been to a Bulls game in years, but went to one a couple years ago. I was amazed how much more like a circus the atmosphere seemed to me to have become than a sporting event. All the loud, silly stuff during time-outs to keep folks pumped up. And the game itself was a total bore until the 4th quarter. The Bulls played lackadaisically, falling pretty far behind an inferior team, but then came roaring back to win in the end. It certainly did not make me wonder what I'd been missing.

    I realize that this is nothing more than a "Get off my lawn"-style rant from a disgruntled curmudgeon. Whatevs...

    1. The only game I went to in the last 10 years, the crowd went wild awards the end of the game frantically urging the Bulls to score enough points so that the fans would get a free $3 pizza. I'd rather watch a neighborhood pick-up game if that were possible now that all the hoops have been torn down in the nearby parks.


    2. And that ... somehow voided the whole experience for you? Because it showed ... an unseemly ... what? And the guys playing that pick-up game wouldn't get excited about free pizza? Give this some more thought and elaborate.

    3. I thought I was adding to Jakash's observation that a Bulls game feels like like a frenzied circus desperately trying to fill every second with entertainment only tenuously related to basketball.

      The pickup players would be delighted with free pizza, but it seemed silly to me that people who paid at least $50 to see a game would be so excited about scoring a cheap pizza.

    4. I like the frenzied circus. If you're paying $200 for a seat, you don't want to watch an empty court during time outs. Maybe I'm a kid at heart, but I try to catch the t-shirts they toss into the crowd, even though I have more t-shirts than I could wear in three lifetimes, and I probably wouldn't wear whatever they're flinging into the crowd. Of course, I am not a dignified sophisticate like some.

    5. I'm glad for you, sad for me, but then I get my kicks watching interminable baseball games.

      John the snob

    6. That's hilarious, Neil. You're an avid opera-goer, who makes more references to Dante and Virgil than George Will does to Reagan, yet you're chiding us 'cause we're not childlike enough to appreciate the antic nonsense at a Bulls game? Uh, okay. FWIW, had a cannon-fired t-shirt come my way, I'd certainly not have been too sophisticated to catch it! : )


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