Let's hope Derrick's play in 2009-10 helps us forget about his turbulent summer...
Speaking at a basketball camp at Joy of the Game in Deerfield, Derrick finally talked to the press about his Summer of Doom. Specifically, the allegations that somebody else took his college entrance exam and the picture that purportedly shows him flashing a gang sign.
Here’s what he had to say. Regarding the allegations of academic fraud: “That didn’t bother me at all, I know I didn’t do anything wrong. That was up to Memphis what they had to do. Coach [John Calipari] told me, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I definitely wasn’t worried about it. I was still working out, so I just let [the scandal] pass.”
As for the supposed gang sign picture: “I couldn’t even remember the whole [NCAA] championship game, so I know I couldn’t remember that night, but I just got passed it. [I] talked to my mom, [she] told me just don’t worry about it, and I’m just looking forward to the future.”
Derrick also weighed in on the loss of Ben Gordon: “I guess they’re looking into the future. Ben is a great player, one of the best scorers I’ve ever played with, a great guy. He had to make a business move going to Detroit. I’m gonna miss him a lot. He took a lot of pressure off me last year, but we’ll have to see this year.”
For the most part, I’m fine with Derrick’s “answers” to these controversies, even if he didn’t really say much of anything. However…stating flat out that he didn’t do anything wrong could come back on him pretty hard if the investigation turns up any actual wrongdoing. I hope for his sake that what he’s saying is true.
It's all fun and games until somebody whips out the gang signs.
From Dan McGrath and David Heinzmann of the Chicago Tribune: “Weeks after he was linked to allegations of academic fraud at the University of Memphis, the Bulls’ star guard issued a statement declaring his vehement opposition to gangs in response to a photo posted on the Internet that showed him flashing gang signs at a party in Memphis during his freshman year there. … Earlier Thursday, a Bulls spokesman said the team was aware of the photo but was not concerned, as gang affiliation and behavior didn’t square with the Rose the Bulls know.”
And here’s some text from Derrick’s Statement (which was most likely carefully written by a public relations specialist): “Recently, a photo has been circulating on the Internet which appears to depict me flashing a gang sign. This photo of me was taken at a party I attended in Memphis while I was in school there, and was meant as a joke … a bad one, I now admit. I want to emphatically state, now and forever, that Derrick Rose is anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence. I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with any gang and I can’t speak loudly enough against gang violence, and the things that gangs represent. In posing for this picture, I am guilty of being young, naive and of using extremely poor judgment. I sincerely apologize to all my fans for my mistake. I pride myself on being a good citizen, and role model, that young people can look up to and I want to urge all my young fans to stay away from gangs and gang-related activities.”
Do I think that Derrick is involved in or supports gang activity of any kind? Of course not. This is a textbook example of a boneheaded move by a kid at a party…the kind of move kids at parties have been making since the first caveman party-goer decided to hit the second caveman party-goer in the groin with a his wooden club. I remember one particularly rowdy party during my junior year of college when, while being videotaped, I curled my finger into a hook shape and declared to all future viewers of the video, “Yargh! I am such a [expletive] pirate!” But you know what? I wasn’t actually a pirate at all. I was just a slightly intoxicated (and therefore more-than-slightly obnoxious) 21-year-old who thought telling the world he was a pirate would seem cool. (Yeah, I sure swung and missed on that one, huh?)
And in the end, that’s all Derrick was trying to do: Seem cool. Unfortunately, as an NBA player — an up-and-coming star, no less — he leads a very public life. Whereas you’ll only hear about my pirate video second-hand (hopefully), private pictures of people like Derrick Rose will probably be surfacing and becoming public domain long after his career is over. So for the sake of that career, and a reputation that has taken some serious hits this summer, I hope he pauses for some careful consideration next time he’s clowning for the camera.