By: Bill Renje
Of all the superlatives often been used to describe Derrick Rose’s athleticism, I prefer one that describes his humility and character – and that word is refreshing. At 22, Rose was named the youngest Most Valuable Player in history on Tuesday. In typical Rose fashion he directed all credit and glory for his success to others: first to God and then the NBA, his teammates, coaches, fans and those great Bulls who paved the way for him like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan.
But where even non-sports fans will find themselves with a lump in the throat was when he thanked his family (Go to the 5:00 mark). Even my wife who wouldn’t have known Derrick Rose before yesterday had he knocked on our door, shed a tear when she saw Derrick thank his mother. Truth is – so did I.
Said Rose through heavily dampened eyes, ““Brenda Rose…My heart, the reason why I play the way I play….just everything. Just knowing that days that I don’t feel like going to practice, when I’m having a hard time, I think about her when she had to wake me up, go to work, and just making sure that I’m alright and making sure the family is alright. Those are hard days. My days shouldn’t be hard because I love doing what I’m doing and that’s playing basketball. So you keep me going every day and I love you and I appreciate you better than my life.”
You just can’t fake Rose’s humility folks. I’ve seen many athletes who are well coached by their representatives try to act humble but it usually comes across as insincere. I’ve seen athletes go to the God card when it’s convenient and usually when they’re in trouble. But when Rose responds to a question after a game about his athletic abilities that “God gave me a gift to drive to the basket”, he’s genuinely deflecting praise that he’s not comfortable taking for himself. When he credits his teammates and coaches for his success, he’s as sincere in his statement as he is determined when thunderously driving to the basket. The mark of a winner in any aspect of life is in knowing that one’s success is the result of something far bigger than themselves.
Derrick Rose is a textbook role model for my kids as well as yours. He surrounds himself with quality people and doesn’t have the entourage of hangers on of so many pro athletes. He’s a guy with incredible talents, yet someone who doesn’t sit back and rely solely on those talents. He still pushes himself in much the same way Michael Jordan did to take his game to an even higher level. It’s called working hard to fulfill and maximize your potential – whether that potential is to be the best athlete you can be or the best ditch digger.
He’s the perfect blend between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is when you underestimate and don’t give proper respect to a worthy opponent. Arrogance is thinking that you’re the reason for your team’s success. Confidence is when you think you’re better than your opponent but you realize their value and know you need to bring your best performance or you may get beaten. Confidence, as an individual playing a team sport, is understanding your role as well as the value of your teammates and how a team functions as a single unit.
Rose gets it. To be sure, he’s 22, has access to a lifestyle most of us don’t and, as a human being, he’s certainly fallible. But as long as he keeps his focus upward and is mindful of his circle of influence, Derrick Rose should continue to be a blessing and treat to the people of Chicago, and NBA fans as a whole, one day taking his place alongside Walter Payton, Michael Jordan and Ernie Banks.