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Jim Mone/Associated Press
Derrick Rose dialed back the clock in his vintage Timberwolves jersey with all the step-backs, hesitation moves and bursts of athleticism that made him the league’s breakout star in his 2010-11 MVP campaign.
Rose opened the floodgates with a three-pointer to begin the scoring for the ‘Wolves, and he closed with a 34 point second-half explosion, including a layup with 30 seconds remaining, lead-extending free throws with 13.8 seconds left and a game-sealing block of Dante Exum as time expired.
He gave fans a little bit of everything: four three-pointers, eight free throws and a dizzying array of pump fakes that left reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert reeling.
Rose’s 50 points are the third-most in the NBA this season, and his personal career best, topping his 42 in February and March of 2011.
Rose managed his best performance without Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague against a Utah Jazz team that waived him just nine months ago.
Rose was clearly emotional upon entering the court for the final defensive possession, tears streaming down his face. Court cases, mysterious disappearances and most of all injuries have all contributed to the ruin of Derrick Rose’s career. But for one night, he gave NBA fans a glimpse of what could have been.
There’s so much to explore from Rose’s throwback night, and we’ve gathered some of B/R’s finest basketball minds to dissect it all in the slides ahead.
—Preston Ellis (Follow on Twitter @PrestonEllis)
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Jim Mone/Associated Press
When the Cleveland Cavaliers were struggling to find an identity during a tumultuous and unfulfilling 2017-18 season, Derrick Rose was desperately trying to rediscover his own.
The MVP season of 2010-11 had almost become an albatross for a player who was a shell of his former self in the face of injury after soul-crushing injury. Every time he stepped on the court, we were hoping to see that electrifying talent resurface—just a glimpse of the burst, skill and aggression that made him one of the most feared offensive players in the league.
There came a point when it seemed futile to hope we’d ever see that Derrick Rose again.
And then, Wednesday night happened: a career-high 50 points, a raucous celebration of a once unstoppable force, flowing tears.
For one night, Derrick Rose found himself again.
“When Derrick Rose is healthy, there are no problems,” a person close to the former MVP told Bleacher Report. “It is only when he has injuries [that] we have frustration.”
With one debilitating knee injury after another robbing Rose of his powers, it seemed that health was going to be an unattainable goal. Traded to Utah as part of the Cavs’ unsuccessful roster purge in February, dumped by the Jazz two days later and then signed by Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau—seemingly for nothing but nostalgia—Rose had fallen so far, so pitifully, that a night like Wednesday’s seemed impossible.
“I know how good I am,” Rose told me last season in Cleveland, as he was coming to grips with the worst possible predicament: being a role player without a role. “And right now, the only thing that I’m missing is an opportunity. I’m just being patient and taking my time.”
Finally—for one night, at least—the patience paid off, and Derrick Rose was back.
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Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
The cascade of giddy tweets said it all: Many NBA players and fans were thrilled for Derrick Rose.
Dropping 50 points after all the knee surgeries, trades and career obituaries was nothing short of inspirational—from a purely athletic perspective.
But Rose’s story is more complicated than that. And not everyone was eager to celebrate his throwback performance.
It was only two years ago that Rose and two friends stood trial for rape in a civil case in Los Angeles. Rose maintained his innocence, and a jury ultimately rejected his accuser’s claims. Yet the details of that case—which included Rose testifying under oath that he did not understand the meaning of consent—left a cloud over his character. And the matter might not be over; an appeal in the case is set to be heard this month.
The allegations were horrifying. From a legal standpoint, Rose is in the clear for now. That leaves a lot of gray area for basketball fans to navigate.
On the court, Rose’s behavior has raised other questions. In January 2017, while playing for the New York Knicks, Rose disappeared for 24 hours and missed a game without communicating with the team. The following season, Rose left the Cleveland Cavaliers for several days while reportedly “contemplating his future” amid another series of injuries. However, a team spokesperson ultimately disclosed he had been cleared to handle a personal matter.
When the Cavaliers traded Rose to Utah in a midseason roster overhaul, the Jazz considered it purely a financial transaction; he was waived immediately. If not for the lifeline thrown to Rose by Tom Thibodeau, his former coach in Chicago, who knows where he would be right now?
From a basketball standpoint, what Rose did Wednesday night was certainly stirring. But nothing with Rose will ever be that simple again.
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David Sherman/Getty Images
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Rose’s big night and his role have nothing to do with Jimmy Butler, his production and the drama surrounding his spot on the team.
The Wolves should trade Jimmy Butler. He’s a disgruntled superstar who has made clear he plans on signing elsewhere this summer, and that he has no issues with tossing grenades across the Minnesota practice floor.
Minnesota’s future is Karl-Anthony Towns, but it can’t begin building the foundation of that future until Butler is gone. The random 50-point night from Rose will likely go down as a complete outlier. Rose is still a 30-year-old point guard with a semi-broken body and clunky jump shot who doesn’t play defense. That game should have zero impact on the team’s decision-making.
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In no way could we have predicted any facet of D-Rose’s 50-point detonation.
Yes, he’s having his best season in quite some time. And Minnesota is shallow, so the offense has shots to go around—particularly on a night in which Jimmy Buckets, Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones didn’t play.
But this is 2018. Rose hasn’t been a net-positive player for years. He isn’t supposed to be turning in career nights, taking almost twice as many shots as Karl-Anthony Towns or getting clean looks inside eight feet of the basket against what’s supposed to be one of the league’s most imposing defenses.
Even the reaction to his feat lacked a certain predictability. A large portion of NBA Twitter and the basketball universe fell over themselves celebrating Rose’s night. This outing is being spun into something resembling redemption and, in many cases, entirely sidestepping his off-court issues.
Though he was found not liable in his rape case, Rose’s accuser’s appeal still looms, and again, this man could not even define consent. That has to be part of this story. That it’s generally not says a great deal about how we use success to apply forgiveness and justify ignorance—a reaction that, on second thought, really isn’t surprising at all.