The Real D-Rose

By Connor Pignatello

When someone asks you who “D-Rose” is, make sure you tell them everything. Tell them about the little kid who loved to hoop, and would do anything to secure his dream to be a professional basketball player. Tell them about the teenager, who, on a longshot, returned home to play his favorite game in the middle of his favorite city. Tell them about the young man who experienced success so early in his career that the NBA Players Association had to make the “Derrick Rose Rule” so that the Bulls could give him the money he deserved. Tell them about the man who fought hard to regain his past form, even though his body betrayed him. Tell them about the grizzled vet, who took a veteran minimum salary just seven years after winning MVP.
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Tell them this: Derrick Rose was one of the best young talents the world has ever seen. He was highly recruited out of high school, and played for Memphis for one year in 2008. That year, Memphis was the runner-up in the NCAA tournament and Rose was their star. However, his time in Memphis did not come without scandal. He was accused of having someone take his SAT for him and the basketball program was levied with strong penalties, including the nullification of all their wins from that magical year.

Then, Rose headed to the NBA, where his hometown Chicago Bulls won the first overall pick, despite having just a 1.7% chance to win it. The Bulls selected Rose, and he immediately impressed everyone in the NBA. In 2008-09, Rose won Rookie of the Year. Each of the next three years, Rose was selected as an All-Star, including places in the starting lineup in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he became the youngest MVP in league history at just 22 years old, leading the Bulls to the best record in the NBA. Things were only looking up for the young star.

But then, tragedy struck. In the final minutes of a first round playoff game against the 76ers in 2012, Rose went up for a layup and came down hard, holding his left knee. It was discovered that he had torn his ACL, meaning he would miss the rest of the playoffs and spend all of the next season rehabilitating his injured knee. In 2013-14, Rose made his long-awaited return, but tore his meniscus in his right knee less than a month into the season. The next season, he tore the meniscus in his right knee again, and missed 20 games. But the Bulls still marched on to the playoffs, and in a vintage “D-Rose” moment, Rose electrified the Chicago crowd with a buzzer-beating three pointer against the Cavaliers.

Some thought D-Rose was back to his world-dominating ways, but alas, he was not. In 2015-16, Rose was not himself, and because of his poor play as well as Chicago’s new star Jimmy Butler, Rose found himself unwanted and unused. The locker room was toxic and the Bulls were struggling. But there were new possibilities for Rose.

In the summer of 2016, Rose was traded to the Knicks in a blockbuster deal. He would play for the Knicks for just one season, but would miss the final two weeks of the campaign due to a torn meniscus in his right knee. This past summer, Rose was a free agent, but the veteran had already undergone four knee surgeries in nine years and attracted little attention on the open market. Rose signed with the Cavaliers, but for just 1 year and $3.1 million, a far cry from the $21.3 million he made in 2016. Rose, a superstar from the past, ruined by injury and decline, is now relegated to the Cavs bench, in the rare moments that he is healthy. He was a true icon in his younger days. Now he is a sad reminder of what injuries can do to someone.

That is the story of Derrick Rose, a fallen hero from years past. He is no longer Chicago’s savior, but rather, a sixth man on a contending team. So, when someone asks you “Who is D-Rose?” make sure you tell them the whole story, and nothing less.

Bulls Picture Credit: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Derrick Rose) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Arm Sleeve: Now a component in America’s three favorite sports

By Connor Pignatello

Iverson

On January 21st, 2001, Allen Iverson was experiencing soreness in his right elbow. He had bursitis, inflammation that would require offseason surgery. So, the 76ers trainer cut out part of a tube bandage and suggested Iverson wear it to ease the swelling. Iverson scored 51 points that night, and by the time the year was over, he had attained his second scoring title and his only NBA Finals appearance.

‘The Answer’ would don his signature accessory, the arm sleeve, for the rest of his distinguished career, while racking up 4 scoring titles, 8 All-NBA selections, and the MVP award in 2001.

Arm Sleeves

It is said arm sleeves can help keep the muscles in the shooter’s arm warm and stop inflammation. However, lots of players wear sleeves just for fashion, and their impact is doubted by many. Also, wearing an arm sleeve on your non-shooting elbow has been found to have zero impact, so players like Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony who wear two arm sleeves are not helping themselves at all.

These sleeves also help players because of the ‘placebo effect’. The player feels as if the sleeve is improving his play and also decreasing his chance of injury. Therefore, he plays with more confidence, even though the accessory that he is wearing has no proven benefits.

Arm sleeves also can help a player become more confident, as Deion Sanders once said, “If you look good you feel good, and if you feel good you play good”. For example, former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III — who wears one on his non-throwing arm — stated that he feels more confident when he is wearing the stylish arm sleeve.

Another reason that athletes wear arm sleeves is because of superstition. Athletes are notoriously superstitious, so if they try out an arm sleeve and have a great game, they will keep it on as a good luck charm.

Influence

Iverson was a cultural icon and many NBA players and fans imitated him. He was a fan favorite because, at just 6’ and 165 pounds, fans could see themselves in his size 11 shoes. Kids grew up idolizing Iverson because they could relate to him, and they could root for the underdog — the skinny kid from the projects who drove fearlessly through the lane against players that might be a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier. Fans could not relate to behemoth centers and athletic freaks like Shaquille O’Neal — the MVP winner in 2000 — because there was no way that they could grow up to be 7’1” and 325 pounds.

Iverson influenced millions of people, and after his jersey retirement ceremony, Lebron James thanked Iverson in an Instagram post, “U (sic.) the reason why I got tattoos, wore a headband and arm sleeve. Thanks for everything!!” When Steph Curry was asked about why he wore an arm sleeve for a portion of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he replied, “As a little kid I always wanted to be like Allen Iverson and that was the only way I could really come close.” A.I. was so revered by fans that twice in the late stages of his career he made the All-Star team while only playing 3 games.  

I estimate that almost half of the players in the NBA now wear an arm sleeve, and this is all attributable to Iverson. Stars like Lebron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, and Paul George all wear this fashionable accessory.

Iverson was such an idol in the 2000s that his use of the arm sleeve has spread to baseball, football, and even tennis — Serena Williams wore two arm sleeves during her U.S. Open win in 2016.

Many baseball players wear the accessory on their throwing arm now, to keep their muscles warm. All-Stars like Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, and Manny Machado all wear compression sleeves.

Arm sleeves are also common in the NFL. Actually, I think they make more sense in football than any other sport, because the sleeves prevent players from getting turf burn. However, I suspect that arm sleeves are more of a fashion statement than a safety feature. Cornerbacks like Richard Sherman and Josh Norman, running backs such as Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell, and quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Robert Griffin III all wear arm sleeves.

Other Sports Fashion

Compression pants, like arm sleeves, have no confirmed benefit, but most basketball players now wear them. Some players have knee pads inside the pants, but many don’t, meaning that they wear compression pants for fashion purposes. Out of the 11 players who received an MVP vote this year, 10 of them wear some type of compression on their legs.

Football players have begun to wear tights as well. Some NFL players are ditching knee-high socks and wearing compression pants underneath their uniform shorts. And many college players are wearing tights to cover up their bare legs.

The arm sleeve is one of the singular accessories in American sports that does not have a proven benefit, but is widespread in its usage. This decoration is still popular years after Iverson retired, and it has been ingrained in sports fashion forever. The era of accessorizing is upon us, and the arm sleeve is here to stay.

 

Special thanks to Jay Caspian King’s New Yorker article “Object of Interest: The History of the Allen Iverson sleeve”. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/object-of-interest-the-history-of-the-allen-iverson-sleeve

Special thanks also to iMSportsBlog for teaching me about arm sleeves. http://blog.imsportsteam.com/sports-compression-sleeves-do-they-really-work/

All stats via Basketball Reference