After Derrick Rose’s dispiriting first stint with the New York Knicks, many fans were wary of his return to the franchise. Eager to change his Knicks’ legacy, he’s becoming an important piece on a team trying to rewrite their narrative as well.
Derrick Rose’s arrival to the New York Knicks from the Chicago Bulls was one of the most celebrated moves of the Phil Jackson era. Upon arrival, the former league Most Valuable Player set the bar high – going as far to compare his new team to the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
“They’re high,” Rose said, on the expectations of his 2016 Knicks. “I mean, with these teams right now, they’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams.”
The Warriors would end the season as NBA Champions – the Knicks finished 12th in the East.
The Knicks’ failed to meet their lofty expectations – and Rose failed to become the transcendent point guard the team was looking for. On January 9th, 2017, he even failed to show up to the game – famously no-showing their game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was a disastrous marriage for Rose and the Knicks, ending after only one year – Rose tearing his meniscus right before hitting free agency, the Knicks only getting one season out of their star acquisition.
A video surfaced later of Rose’s live reaction of being traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Knicks – it wasn’t exactly a celebration. He sat in shock, tears welling up, as he tried to find the words to say.
This time for Rose and the Knicks, it’s different.
New York Knicks and Derrick Rose Reunited
Since that infamous 2016-17 season, Rose has gone through another surgery, three different teams and a hiatus to determine if he still loved basketball – amid the highs and lows in-between. On the other hand, the Knicks have seen multiple different head coaches, general managers, and a whole lot of losing.
Now, as they both seem to have found the track to success, they’re trying to author a new beginning together.
One of, if not the biggest reason(s) for the success of both Rose and the Knicks has been coach Tom Thibodeau. In his first year, he has a brand of basketball you can be proud of being played at The Mecca – something you haven’t been able to say in a long time.
Wherever Rose found success as a player, there’s always been one constant – coach Thibodeau. His MVP season in Chicago, his legendary 50 point game in Minnesota – Thibodeau on the side with all the confidence in the world in his player.
That’s part of why Rose knew this time around, things wouldn’t go the way they did in 2016-17.
“He’s just a totally different person now,” Rose said of the changes he sees in Thibodeau now. “He’s smiling. I’ve never seen him smile as much as he has right now. So it rubs off on me. I’m feeling his energy.”
Since joining the New York Knicks again, the former number one overall selection has gelled with everyone – from rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, to former teammate and veteran Taj Gibson. His influence on the team has been overwhelmingly positive, helping ignite the team’s bench – something that’ll keep his coach smiling.
Rose has provided 12 points per game since coming over to the Knicks, but his leadership and teaching ability have been on display more than ever before. He even took Quickley and Toppin out to dinner when he got to New York – telling them that it was his mission to make sure they continue to grow as players brimming with potential.
How Rose has fit with the New York Knicks’ backcourt
Quickley, the Knicks’ rookie phenom, elaborated to GQ, saying Rose told him, “Look, I’m not here to try to take over anything, I’m just here to play hard and help you guys get better. If you get it, don’t be looking for me. Just go up and do your thing; and the same thing, if I get it, I’ll go up and do my thing, we’ll just play off each other and things like that.”
Rose thinks a lot of the Knicks’ young point guard’s tenacity – he’s happy to share the same backcourt as Quickley. “He’s a dog,” said Rose. “I can’t explain it. You’ve got to be a player to understand it. [If] we’re in a fight, I know he’s fighting.”
On Thursday, Rose got his first start in New York since the trade – starting off the game 7 for 7 from the field and finishing with 18 points. The Knicks would end up scoring 140 points in a feel-good victory – their largest output this season.
While the Knicks’ current starting point guard, Elfrid Payton, has improved recently, it’s tough not to see that performance and wonder if he’s holding their starting unit back. With Rose’s strong offensive play and passing ability on display, Payton might’ve gotten Wally Pipped by Rose already.
Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench though, the goal remains the same for Rose – win basketball games. In just the first month of being a Knick again, his New York story is already more promising than it ever was.
“Whatever you ask him to do, the team’s always been first for him from the beginning to now,” said Thibodeau on Rose. “He’s a great example for all our young guys.”
No, Derrick Rose will never be the transcendent point guard who finally changed the Knicks for good as we thought in 2016. He can be a key part of a transcendent team doing exactly that, though.
In his second chance with the Knicks, that’s more than good enough.