I came to this realization while reading a seemingly innocuous comment.
We should have realized that it was a hoax when they started telling us the really unbelievable stories like, "We got the number 1 pick with a 1.7% chance." We should have realized it was unbelievable when they gave us the storybook romance of, "He's from the same town as the Bulls, saw them playing some games, and then decided that he didn't want to be with anyone but them. It was love at first sight"
It's not like there weren't whispers of his non-existence in the past. "Why is it that every time that Derrick is supposed to appear somewhere, Reggie Rose always shows up?" It should have been a giant red flag when Derrick was supposed to appear on that TV show in New York, and instead refused to come out of his house. We closed our eyes when it was revealed that Derrick Rose never attempted to contact Dwight Howard or Lebron James, and Lebron does not even have Derrick's phone number. In the modern NBA, what real-life superstar does nothing to recruit other good players? Just look at that prophetic last paragraph:
Which begs the question: who has had an extended conversation with Derrick Rose?
The answer is "nobody", and we've all been dancing around the truth for so long. The truth is we wanted to believe. We felt so invested in the myth of Derrick Rose, and he kept finding ways to pull us back in. He kept telling us he wanted to be with us forever. He kept promising he'd give us a ring eventually but something always got in the way. In 2011 it was Miami and the lack of a second ball handler. In 2012, it was the unlikely event of an ACL injury while doing a routine play in the closing minutes of a game the Bulls had already won. Now, this year, they're saying he might not come back at all until he reaches the mathematically impossible goal of 110%. There will always be one excuse or another for why this story won't have a happy ending.
I did some digging, and Rose claims to have played at the University of Memphis before coming to Chicago, but according to the NCAA no record of Rose's one season of college basketball even exists. And the whispered reason for the lack of any official records is that this Rose person was suspected of having had an impersonator take his SATs. Seriously? How did we miss this?
Now I may be old school and don't understand all this "online fandom", but what kind of naive fan base claims to be in love with a sports star who hasn't so much as spoken with them in the last 10 months? Every single time we tried, it was always his "coach" or his "GM" or his "manager" on the line telling us that Derrick can't talk to us right now because he's in so much pain, but it makes him smile just hearing that we bought Bulls tickets or the new Rose 3.5 sneakers. He can't speak, but they can observe his heart rate going up, and his pockets expanding. Then he comes back from the dead only to give a confusing series of claims including that his explosiveness is all the way back, but that he can't dunk.
There are still some unanswered questions. Who's in on it? Are the Bulls deliberately misleading us, or have they also been fooled? What was the end game here? I plan to follow up on my research and bring you as many details as possible in the future. Stay tuned.
I did try to reach Derrick Rose for this story, but he was, of course, unavailable for comment.