As media scrutiny has intensified over the past few decades, it has become clear that to sit at the pinnacle of greatness a basketball player must also have the right demeanor to complement top-notch, finely-trained skills. Lamar Odom and Lebron James are two examples of how crucial the right mindset is to becoming a part of an NBA championship team. A significant shift of the mindframe changed Odom from 6th man of the year and a crucial part of a perennial contender to a shred of himself in Dallas, while it turned Lebron from detested villain to triumphant hero. The right mindset is the singular key asset that separates the man that many call the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, from all of his other legendary counterparts. After months of speculation and criticism regarding his decision, by saying that he believed that he’s the best player in the game, Derrick Rose used one question to silence all critics and show the world that he was ready to play basketball again.
By affirming his belief, Rose showed the world why he sat out last season: to ensure that when he came back, he was in the right mindset to dominate. We all know that Rose was cleared months ago. Critics, media types, analysts, former players, and even current players all expressed their belief that he should play if he was cleared, disregarding Rose’s decision and calling said decision into question. But ultimately only Rose knew if he was ready for the grind of being one of the best players in basketball. He could be physically capable but mentally shaky, and that can drastically affect the way he plays. Without the right mindset and without confidence in his body, we wouldn’t have seen the Derrick Rose whose level of play is so dynamic that Adidas signed him to a $200M contract at age 23.
We could have seen a former All-Star playing a hesitant, tentative brand of basketball that was in stark contrast to his notoriously high-flying, athletic style of play. To play with and be discussed among the likes of Kobe, Durant, Lebron, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony as one of the best players in the league, bar none, you need a supreme level of confidence that some would find irrational but is necessary to be among the greats of the era. For the first time since the ACL tear, Rose displayed that confidence and swagger necessary to be great at this level, to get to the championship that Rose deeply desires, and to return to the superior level of play that make people think that a Bulls team led by him can knock off the Heat. It is a safe assumption to say that Rose decided to sit out because he wanted to heal both body and mind, so that there would be no hiccups in his return, but just grit, desire, and intensity.
With one answer Rose showed us that he is altogether whole. No one can accurately and definitively speculate on where Rose’s confidence was during the rehab, etc., but we can all say with a certainty that now he’s physically healed and mentally sharp. This is when you want him to play, NOT when a doctor clears him only for Rose to have reservations nonetheless. With his confidence intact, his mindframe steady, and his health unquestioned, we can continue to see Derrick Rose amaze the NBA viewing audience and all others who watch with him play without reservation and display athleticism, basketball IQ, and competitive fire. At least now, people can understand why he sat out the year.