Derrick Rose: Prince of Virtu?

Rose looking to score

Rose looking to score

Derrick Rose is known as one of the most exciting basketball players today. His athletic ability and combination of scoring and distributing are breathtaking. Very few athletes are capable of the performances that Derrick Rose has displayed. Rose became the leader of the Chicago Bulls right out of college. He won Rookie of the Year his first season in 2009. In just three NBA seasons, he was named Most Valuable Player, the youngest player in league history to win the award. The Bulls have made the playoffs every year that Rose has been on the team.

While Derrick Rose is recognized as an elite athlete and basketball star, he is also recognized as one of the most injury plagued players in the league. In his five years as a professional athlete, Rose has suffered numerous knee and ankle injuries, including two season-ending ones.

Machiavelli Portrait

Machiavelli Portrait

According to Machiavelli, a good leader not only has virtu, or talent and expertise, but they also understand that everything is not under their control. Some things do not go according to plan. In The Prince, Machiavelli uses the term “fortuna,” or fortune to describe unexpected events that are beyond anyone’s control. Fortuna is chance that can be both good and bad.

Rose’s first well-known injury was a torn ACL during the first game of the 2011-2012 playoffs. He could not return for any more playoff games, and the Bulls struggled without their leader. Before his injury, the Bulls were predicted as one of the most likely teams to win the championship, but they lost to the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. Rose’s doctors cleared him to play in the middle of next season, but Rose decided to sit out and not return for the remainder of the year. Bulls fans were frustrated that their leader would not return. The Bulls managed to make the playoffs without Rose, and the addition of their star guard could have helped them win more games, and possibly upset LeBron James and the Heat in the second round of the playoffs. Rose was heavily criticized for not returning. Fans thought that he was lazy, and wanted to get paid without actually playing. Many of Rose’s supporters questioned his leadership and his will to win.

Rose after he tore his ACL

Rose after he tore his ACL

While I can see how one could be disappointed with Rose’s decision, I do not think it was necessary to question his leadership. Derrick Rose’s fortuna was his torn ACL. Rose could not have done anything to avoid his injury, it just happened. Machiavelli says that in order to beat fortuna, a good leader has to make tough decisions that some might disapprove of. Rose’s decision to sit out the rest of the season was disapproved by many. But he felt that in order to come back at full strength, he needed more time to get in game shape. Why come back too early and hurt yourself again, perhaps even more seriously or worse yet, a career-ending injury?

However, after taking the full year off, Rose’s return ended shortly. Ten games into the season, Rose tore his meniscus, and was out for the season again. This season, after missing last year with the meniscus injury, Rose twisted both of his ankles on the second game of the season. In the first seven games of the season, Rose has only played in two.

All of Rose’s misfortunes makes me wonder how much fortuna a leader can face while still being viewed as an effective leader. Does it matter how much virtu someone possesses if fortuna constantly occurs? Derrick Rose has all of the virtu needed to be a great leader and player on a basketball team. His teammates respect him for his talent and ability to control a game. When Rose isn’t scoring, he has the ability to make his teammates better by setting them up for easy baskets. Rose’s absence has proved that Rose is an effective leader. When Rose is healthy, the Bulls are one of the best teams in basketball. Without him on the floor, they have not been able to get past the second round of the playoffs. But one has to ask whether Rose is able to be a good leader if he is prone to injury.

Rose receiving his MVP trophy

Rose receiving his MVP trophy

I think that Rose is an impressive leader, but all of his misfortune makes it appear as if he isn’t one. Rose has to keep sitting out for long periods of time in order to come back as the player that he was before his injuries, and many people are critical of his decisions. If someone faces too much fortuna, they are often faced with making tough decisions which are disapproved of by many, making it difficult to be viewed as a good leader. If fortuna is extreme, can any amount of virtu overcome it? Virtu is always necessary, but is it always sufficient to defeat fortuna?

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2 comments

  1. pburt117 · November 10, 2014

    I enjoyed this post. I could only imagine what it would be like to be such an elite athlete, yet to be plagued with injuries. It would be extremely frustrating. I think it also says something about his character as well, considering he does not let injuries make him quit what he loves. He keeps fighting, regardless of the difficulty he endures. It seems as though this makes him an even more admirable athlete than others. It would also be nice to be his teammate, because his work ethic and attitude would lead by example. He is truly on another level of leadership, one which most athletes could never accomplish.

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  2. rconybeare · November 12, 2014

    I really liked this blog post. I am a Bulls and Derrick Rose fan, but was not upset when he decided to sit out the full season after his ACL injury. If he had returned too early, he could have faced an even worse injury because his body was not ready for game play. And maybe that is why he tore his meniscus shortly after–even after sitting out a season, maybe he needed more time. I was upset with the people who questioned his commitment to the game because it showed that they do not put the players’ health before winning. I also believe that until Rose retires from the game, he will have virtu and fortuna. I do not think that there is a limit on either of these two things in the long run.

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