The New York Knicks' re-signing of former MVP Derrick Rose – the youngest MVP in NBA history – signifies that the franchise is on the precipice of returning to relevance. The Knicks originally acquired Rose in February 2021 in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round draft pick. Rose's previous association with Tom Thibodeau immediately became the point of conversation.
In 2011, Thibodeau, then as Chicago Bulls head coach, and Rose, as a 22-year-old MVP, reached the Eastern Conference Finals before eventually losing to the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh led Miami Heat.
The wins, the losses, the unrelenting knee injuries, the drama and eventual separation.
Each off to different spots in the league at the same time, yet also the same places at different times.
So Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau have been through it all together and separately.
Yet, once again, the grizzled vets have reunited, and after such an impressive foray into NBA free agency, it appears the New York Knicks' quest to return to relevance is imminent. It's a return to relevance that's great for fans, the NBA and unquestionably sports – especially given the Knicks' $5 billion value.
New York Knicks are the talk of the town again
It all came together in the 2020-21 season for the New York Knicks, just a year after finishing 12th in the East as Covid disrupted everything worldwide. It was a cool story seeing the Knicks electrify the league, finish fourth in the East at 41-31, and make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern looked me in the eye once and said he'd do everything to ensure the New York Knicks were back on everyone's lips. Now is the time, and surely the late commissioner somewhere smiles on high as the current Commissioner Adam Silver reaps the benefits of Stern's common-sense goal.
Julius Randle realizing his potential as a scorer and MVP candidate himself, coupled with steady boil-under-the-surface performances by Derrick Rose, gave the city a charge. Everyone from Alec Burks to Nerlens Noel contributed as the New York Knicks established a hard-nosed culture.
In the aftermath of last year's shot in the veins, Madison Square Garden will be as loud as ever this upcoming NBA season. Is the signing of Brooklyn native Kemba Walker timely or is it too late in his basketball career? We'll see if it was the right move for the Knicks.
Derrick Rose always had the right mentality
Derrick Rose came into the NBA as arguably the most athletic point guard ever, and has the highlights in that regard and otherwise to boot.
What Derrick Rose told me for SLAM Magazine in his rookie year is interesting. His thought process in preparing for the league is unique. Being from Chicago, the only basketball he watched growing up was of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Masterclass stuff.
The encapsulation and view of the game at that elite level had to give Rose a focus. A focus to persevere throughout the personal and physical setbacks; a focus on taking advantage of the opportunity presented whenever presented.
Derrick Rose was a bigger (not better) Allen Iverson in his prime and one can only dream what may have been with Rose. Would the league have shifted to showcase his unabashed rim attacks in a highlighted social media world? Would a delay in the current game capitalizing on the three-point shot have materialized? Maybe.
The elevation and strength at the rim were Derrick Rose's signature. And though many have said he's the greatest that never was, what we are seeing now from Rose during his tenure with the Knicks is the settling of a gifted legacy.
The gifts of Mike and Scottie indirectly driving him with a Chicago flair; driven to explode for a career-high 50 points on Halloween in 2018; driven to do whatever it takes to win in the world's most famous sports arena at a time when the NBA is evolving, and the East is quickly becoming more powerful.
The 2021 playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks is perhaps another incentivized moment to motivate Derrick Rose and a New York Knicks bench that will be decidedly more talented in the 2021-22 season.
These are two different Derrick Rose worlds. He also told me he wanted to become the best player ever to play in the NBA, and he was surely on his way. It was his incredible dunks. Spectacular. As my son says, sickdiculous.
He dunked so much in his 2011 MVP season that he tied the great Tim Duncan in throwdowns for the year with 32. Times have changed for Rose. His athleticism isn't nearly as prominent after all the injuries, rehab, and most importantly, wisdom.
What you now see in Derrick Rose is shifty in spots, still adept at the rim and stalwart with either hand. No longer so self-inflicted in his recklessness on the floor, Rose knows what it takes to win, and he will be the first to tell you that.
Tempered wisdom is a helluva drug, and the metaphorical thorns that Derrick Rose endured have seemingly prepared him for another level of individual as well as team success. A success no one would have ever imagined, and that's a great thing, for a rose of tempered thorns is a wise one indeed.
Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau are joined at the hip. So it seems are the New York Knicks. Could we be privy to a great story coming out of Manhattan? Only time will tell.