Chicago Bulls: Reviewing “Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 07: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 07: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

In conjunction with Stadium, Derrick Rose speaks his mind, and he has a lot to say. In this 90-minute production, the former Chicago Bulls PG goes through the ups and downs of his career.

It’s 2011. The Cubs are still trying to break the curse, the Bears are coming off of a winning season, the Blackhawks are coming off of winning the Stanley Cup, but a point guard from Englewood was the talk of the town. Derrick Rose won the first MVP trophy for the Chicago Bulls since “His Airness” decided to retire. For as quick as Rose’s success came, it fell just as quickly. As the injuries piled up, Rose’s image took a hit in the media. Now, in a documentary with Stadium, Rose finally gets to tell his story. The footage includes various media members, friends, family, and Rose himself (in 2016 and 2018).

The film starts with multiple shots of Chicago and cuts right to the Adidas presentation. Rose broke down at the Adidas presentation because of where he came from. Then we are taken to Englewood. If you want to critique or praise Derrick Rose, it’s important you know where he was raised. Chicago is instilled in Derrick through and through.

Englewood is notorious around the world for being the most dangerous areas of Chicago. Rose himself says, “You always think someone is sneaking up on you.” Brenda Rose moved the family into the South Side neighborhood in 1983 and his brothers – Allan Rose and Reggie Rose – both engaged in illegal activity.

In a poverty-stricken area like Englewood, it’s easy to get caught up in something like drugs. Rose didn’t get involved with drugs; he fell in love with Basketball. The place where Rose played ball growing up was primarily at Murray Park, or what Rose called it, “Murder Park.”

Rose grew up in a five-bedroom house but 13 people at a time would live in the house. The poverty took a toll on Derrick. From not being able to buy a piece of candy to having to eat powdered sugar, as it was shown throughout the doc, most of the decisions Rose made were to get his family out of poverty.

When the documentary talked about Rose’s Memphis career – albeit briefly – you get to see the fear that drove Rose. Rose wanted to be great, but he didn’t always feel that he was great. Coach Calipari said that Rose told him “I’m fearful that I’m not good enough.” Something intriguing in this documentary was Rose telling a friend that his former Memphis Tigers coach was the devil. There could be a whole documentary in itself about what happens in a John Calipari practice!

According to the NCAA, that magical 2007-2008 Memphis season didn’t happen. There was the controversy about Rose not taking the SAT himself, but in this type of film in which Rose is an Executive Producer, you wouldn’t get much of that story.

The film then whisks us to the draft lottery where the Basketball gods – or David Stern – gifted the Bulls a chance to take the Chicago native. In one of the best Joakim Noah cameos, Noah said that “All the guards wanted Michael Beasley, all the bigs wanted Rose.” Before the Bulls officially drafted the Memphis PG, they called Rose and asked him about his brother, Reggie Rose. Reggie Rose had a tenuous past, and the Bulls wanted to know about his past before they drafted the future MVP to play for his hometown team. Reggie Rose choked up because he thought he had blown it; that he had cost his brother his dream of being the No. 1 pick. What came after the Bulls announced that they had taken Chicago’s favorite son could only be summed up by his mother, Brenda Rose; “My baby’s coming home.”

We are then whisked to the euphoria surrounding Chicago at the time. The new No. 1 pick was throwing out the 1st pitch at the White Sox game, doing the ceremonial puck drop at a Blackhawks game, and taking countless interviews.

"“It was already like we had won a championship,” Chicago rapper Chance The Rapper said."

The 1st hour is a rollercoaster of emotions. You see the loyalty that Rose has to his family and the conditions in which he inhabited as a youth. However, you get a brief comedic relief when Rose’s sugar addiction was brought up. From the skittle machine to a shot of various candies around his room, he had a bit of a sweet tooth.

The moment that brought Rose to the national forefront was the Bulls-Celtics 2009 matchup. Vincent Goodwill, future Chicago Bulls reporter for CSN, was having friends over at his house but Rose’s game was attracting him to the screen. The dunk on Dragic was next. Stacey King’s call on that dunk is going to be in Chicago lore forever. The former Chicago Bull said it was the greatest poster that he had seen, and he had seen MJ dunk on Ewing.

"“Too big, too fast, too strong, too good.” -Stacey King"

The story fast forwards to the 2010-11 season where Rose’s ‘Why not’ press conference is being talked about. Rose had a lot of doubters after he made that statement. He wasn’t the only one. Coming off of an All-Star season for a 41-41 team, Rose ascending to MVP wasn’t a foregone conclusion to most people. Well, Rose wasn’t most people. The MVP was the pinnacle for Derrick Rose. Lawrence Holmes of 670 The Score said: “It was probably Derrick’s most endearing moment as a Chicago Bull.”

As a kid from Chicago, I sat and watched every game of that 2011 season. It was inspiring to see a player from Chicago representing the city and being captivating to watch. Rose’s MVP speech was heartfelt and showed the love he had for his mother. Though winning the MVP award was the apex of Rose’s career, it was just the beginning of where the Derrick Rose story was going to go.

The hype and attention that surrounded Rose was something that affected Rose as shown in the doc. He went from the feel-good story, to now there were expectations. People were pulling him left and right trying to get his attention. The way that Rose dealt with that makes what a guy like LeBron did even more incredible. LBJ was thrown into the spotlight at 16, from that moment on he had to deal with constant attention surrounding him. At 16, that type of 24/7 recognition is too much. At 22-23 years old, it’s still a lot to manage.

One of the parts the documentary did well was getting the emotion from everyone about Rose’s ACL tear and the chaos that followed. As a person that was in attendance that day, the only time I’ve been in a place that quiet is during a Church service. It was like someone had just come and took the life out of the arena.

Esteemed Chicago Tribune writer, K.C. Johnson, said that the season was a “disaster.” Well, it was. The unfortunate ‘The Return’ commercials that Adidas made for him combined with the lack of certainty surrounding his return would make for a PR mess. There became a constant back-and-forth between fans over whether or not he should play. Around this time is where Rose’s voice, or lack thereof, became an annoyance for the media. Since Rose didn’t want to speak, the media controlled the narrative now.

This movie is aiming to be mostly positive, but the time that they gave to the turning point in Rose’s life was exactly right. Joakim Noah – who never sugarcoats anything – talked about how he selfishly wanted Rose to return during the 2012-13 season. Noah was one of Rose’s closest teammates. To hear him say that is a big deal.

The Simeon grad wanted to prove the doubters wrong, and rightfully so, but mentioning that he wanted to be able to walk at his child’s graduation didn’t instill confidence in fans that he was all in on basketball. Fans were starting to turn on him, and Rose had seen himself become the villain in a city where he was once the golden boy. After the buzzer beater against the Cavs in 2015 came the next colossal moment: the trade.

Rose would break his nose at the beginning of a very forgettable 2015-16 campaign. Instead of sitting out, Rose played through blurry vision but still received backlash from fans. In Fred Hoiberg’s first season as coach, the Bulls missed the playoffs. Changes needed to happen, but no one thought Rose would be among those changes.

The moment where Rose learns about the trade from his agent, B.J. Armstrong, is jarring. Rose was interviewing for this film at the time of the trade and the cameras were able to get the exact reaction from Rose. The Minnesota Timberwolves PG tried to hide his tears by covering his eyes with his left arm, but you could still see he was heartbroken. As the cameras follow the PG, Armstrong tries to console him by telling him how big of an opportunity it is. When Rose returns to get interviewed, you can see him still trying to wrestle with the fact that he had to leave the only team he had ever known.

The biggest gripe with this documentary is the glossing over controversial moments that Rose had after his Bulls tenure. With the rape allegation and him going AWOL on the Knicks, there were events that are important to who Rose is today. I understand that Rose doesn’t want to talk about those moments, but this season has been marketed as a redemption story. Injuries weren’t the only thing that he was recovering from.

There were reports of interest from the Windy City Assassin – one of the coolest nicknames Stacey King has given in his time in Chicago – about returning to the city he once ruled with an iron fist. Those stories about his MVP season, the series against the Celtics, and the dunk on Dragic should live on forever when discussing his career in Chicago.

The love the fans showed him when he returned to watch the Bulls’ playoff game in 2017 is the love he should get from the city.

The charity work that he did, still does, should be recognized, but an original is never as good as the sequel.

Ultimately, this isn’t a groundbreaking film that is meant to explore Rose’s life in depth. This story was intended to give Rose a voice to give his opinion on things. This is Derrick Rose unfiltered and unapologetic. Whether you like Rose or not, you should still hear his story.