Derrick Rose is a role model for every kid who grows up in Englewood or any other poverty-stricken neighborhood, utilizes his God-given and self-imposed talents while striving to overcome one obstacle after another that society throws in his path and finally achieves riches and stardom.
Good for him. It's a good Hollywood script.
But Rose sends the wrong message if he uses those physical and athletic skills to manipulate a system designed to determine right from wrong, morally or ethically or legally. It worked for him. But how many other kids who desire to be "the next Derrick Rose" will realize his dream?
Not many. For every Derrick Rose or Kevin Garnett, there are thousands who aren't good enough to start on their high school team or aren't good enough to earn a Division I scholarship or aren't good enough to be drafted by a NBA team.
Think about it. Think of all the outstanding high school players you have seen or heard about who dreamed of NBA stardom and never made it. Some were good enough to extend their basketball careers by playing overseas, in Europe or Australia or South America or Japan or Israel. But they never got to the NBA. Others, sadly, never prepared themselves for life after basketball.
Whatever happened to Raymond McCoy, Audie Matthews, Bernard Jackson, Thomas Hamilton, Jamie Brandon, Ronnie Fields, Leon Smith, Cedrick Banks, DeAndre Thomas, Howard Nathan, Sherell Ford, Billy Harris...all great high school players, even players of the year, playground legends who failed, for one reason or another, to score at the next level?
The lesson in all of this is there are no guarantees, no matter how good you or the media or college coaches or your posse think you are, that fate will deliver you to the NBA or NFL or MLB.
The NBA did Rose a favor. He wasn't ready to leap from Simeon High School to the NBA. He wasn't in Garnett's class. Nobody talked about Rose as a lottery pick. However, because of the NBA's new rule requiring high school seniors to attend at least one year of college, Rose had to get another year of seasoning.
He chose Memphis because coach John Calipari has a well-deserved reputation for preparing players for the NBA. And that's what he did for Rose. Do you think Rose would have been the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft coming out of Simeon? Do you think he would have been drafted at all? No matter, the year at Memphis removed all doubts.
But did he get to Memphis on his own academic merits or with a little help from his friends? Wouldn't you love to see his freshman transcript? Wouldn't you kill to know the courses he took? NBA Preparation 101? How to sign autographs? How to give interviews? How to make your shoe company sponsor proud?
That's all well and good. Rose wanted to be a professional basketball player--like Dick Butkus wanted to be a professional football player--and he never thought about being a teacher, lawyer or bricklayer.
But do these kids ever wonder what they would do with their lives if, God forbid, they suffered a career-ending injury before their first game in college or the NBA? If they were 21 years old and never could play basketball again? Are they prepared to do anything but shoot jump shots? Will their friends still be going to the mall with them when they can't get them front row seats anymore?