This wasn’t how Derrick Rose’s script was supposed to go, but on the 10-year anniversary of his transcendent MVP season as a 22-year-old, the now-veteran New York Knicks point guard continues his career resurgence while vitalizing a franchise that has been in the NBA’s cellar for the better part of the last two decades.
The 32-year-old’s 25-point effort on Monday night helped lift the Knicks to a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies — their 12th triumph in the last 13 games — to move 1.5 games clear of the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference while clinching the team’s first winning season in seven years.
Rose has provided an immeasurable surge into the Knicks’ young ranks since being acquired from the Detroit Pistons mid-season, exhibiting a tweaked style of support system and role model rather than the talismanic playmaker we saw a decade ago with the Chicago Bulls.
Of course, Rose’s relentless and cruel injury history derailed his once-surefire Hall-of-Fame trajectory, but it’s only exposed the fundamental values that make him such an integral piece of this Knicks team.
“Whether he was the MVP of the league at 22 or 10 years later, he’s the same guy,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau — who coached Rose in Chicago — said. “He’s always been a team-first guy. Winning has always been at the forefront. He’s a great teammate, he’s happy when other people have success.
“He’s most happy when the team wins. Whether huntilcores two points or 20 points, he’s the same guy. He’s doing it in a lot of different ways.”
It’s been more of the latter when it comes to Rose’s scoring output, as he’s averaged 19.5 points over the Knicks’ last eight games to go with 4.8 assists.
Now he’s on the precipice of playing postseason basketball for just the second time since leaving the Bulls in 2015.
“It’s crazy,” Rose said, realizing it’s been 10 years since he won his MVP trophy. “The story is crazy, but I’m just happy to still be here and playing some decent basketball. I’m very appreciative and that’s dope.
“It’s super cool, just to be on a winning team. It could’ve been a lot of different. As long as we have more wins than losses, I’m cool with it. Especially with the record we put out, we’re doing something quite unique here.”
While Rose credited current Los Angeles Lakers physical therapist Judy Seto as “really the only reason I went back in the league,” following his injuries and ensuing rehabilitation, he’ll forever be linked with Thibodeau, who once again took the chance on bringing him back for a second stint with the Knicks four years after his first go-around.
“The only thing I can think of is trust,” Rose said of why Thibodeau gets the best out of him. “He knows how hard I fought to get back, he knows I’m a student of the game, he knows where my heart is at and it’s vice versa. I know how much work he put into his craft, I know how he preps before every game and we’re seeing the results of it.
“He’s somebody I can trust until the end and it’s vice versa.”