Derrick Rose deserves a break and the city of Chicago desperately needs one.
And so when Carmelo Anthony announced he would be visiting the Bulls and Chi-Town first in his nearly weeklong NBA free agency tour, you were hopeful it was also an indication of where his heart might be. For a team more snake-bitten than perhaps all the league’s other 29 teams combined over the last two seasons, you wondered if Lady Luck might have finally been casting her light on the Windy City.
Around the United Center where the Bulls and the youngest MVP in league history call home, video screens of Anthony, draped in the team’s red and white, brightened a city far too gloomed over the last several years by gang and violence problems. Chicago has more homicides and shootings over the first half of 2014 than the vastly more populated metropolises of New York or Los Angeles.
And the Chicago born and bred Rose feels the pain. Back in May, he attended the funeral of a 14-year-old girl shot and killed by another teen stemming from a feud on Facebook. Months before that, he personally paid for the services of a six-month-old infant, accidentally shot and killed when gunmen brazenly opened fire on her gang-member father.
One of the ways the 25-year-old Rose has tried to make sense of all the madness is by turning to the game he’s come to know and love. In a city known for its hoops affinity, Rose has tried to inspire others through the game they all cherish.
Late last year, he and fellow local NBA legend Isiah Thomas joined Father Michael Pfleger in hosting the Peace Tournament, a basketball league where rival gang members square off and get to know one another on the hardwood instead of the city’s unforgiving street corners.
Pfleger, whose history of fighting gang violence stretches more than three decades, later insisted among the players playing in the tournament “there hasn’t been a single shooting” and at least four other rival gangs had called the church interested in suiting up for the next tournament.
And so, when you hear Carmelo Anthony may seriously be considering joining Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson you cheer the possibilities, cheer and pray that it all comes to be. You do so because the city of Chicago needs it and maybe, just maybe the injury-prone Rose deserves it. If it takes the two of them teaming up for such a majestic city to again feel good and prideful about itself, team owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s millions are a small price to pay.
Rose hasn’t bemoaned the knee injuries that have now essentially robbed him of the last two years of his career, and maybe that’s because when he looks at the hard-hit and downtrodden Englewood neighborhood where he grew up as a boy he realizes just how much he remains blessed.
“With all this stuff that’s going on in this city, a kid from Englewood has something positive going on,” Rose once told reporters, a proclamation seemingly meant to uplift others as much as celebrate himself.
If now adding Carmelo means having even more of the city and its youth feeling that kind of positive vibe Derrick Rose felt that day, count me in as a Bulls fan now officially longing for Anthony.