BJ Armstrong: Derrick Rose was on journey to title before injury

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Rob Schaefer
·3 min read
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BJ Armstrong: Rose was on journey to title before injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Jordan endured six seasons, and multiple defeats at the hands of the Detroit Pistons, before winning his first NBA title. For LeBron James, it was eight (plus a team change), with the early-era "Big Three" Boston Celtics his white whale.

The list goes on, but the larger point: Eventual champions almost always endure anguish before glory. For the most mighty, it can steel one's resolve and confirm their commitment to the craft in a way cakewalking to championships doesn't.

According to B.J. Armstrong, this is the journey Derrick Rose was on before multiple knee injuries, for a time, derailed his career and the Bulls' title hopes.

"There's winning and then there's misery. Derrick was on his path of having his first moment where he was understanding the misery of losing. That's important," Armstrong, Rose's agent then and now, told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson in an appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast when asked if the Bulls would have won a title had Rose not been plagued by injury. "We always want to see the athletes celebrating and drinking champagne and pouring champagne -- OK. But let's talk about the journey. He was on his journey."

That "first moment" Armstrong references came in a five-game defeat to James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.

"That was important because they won the very first game of that series and they had homecourt advantage," Armstrong told Johnson. "So do I think Derrick was on his journey to win a championship? Absolutely. Absolutely. Because he was having those types of moments. Every champion has those moments that makes them respect the game even more than they thought, and that was a pivotal moment right there."

Rose was already the youngest most valuable player in league history at that point, but Armstrong said that postseason run, which stopped three wins short of the NBA Finals, changed him.

"The reason it was a pivotal moment was because his changing regimen, the way he was training changed. The way he was talking changed. Now, he wasn't talking as this young kid who was learning, he was like 'OK, this is what needs to happen.' I was seeing all of that happen," Armstrong said. "And then of course the injury."

Then and now, Armstrong believes if Rose gets another opportunity, he'll seize it.

"If it's one thing I know Derrick Rose will do, he will finish," Armstrong said. "If he gets there again, he will finish it. That I know. Now, he had to get there, you need luck, right situation, da da da da da da. But if he gets there, Game [5], again, he will finish the deal. He will finish it."

For more stories from Rose's Bulls tenure, MVP season and resurgence with the Knicks, check out the full podcast below:

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