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During the 2012-13 season, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose frustrated Bulls fans and also local media by refusing to speak with the press about his ongoing recovery from an ACL tear suffered in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. Rose raised a few eyebrows midseason by granting an interview with USA Today, instead of speaking with any number of the team’s respected local beat writers, dutiful sorts that work with the team daily.
The NBA, in reviewing its media guidelines for the 2013-14 season and beyond, has decided to enact a ‘Derrick Rose Rule’ of sorts, demanding that players speak with the press (and, by extension, their fans) even if they’re on the pine with a long-term injury. The Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney spoke with NBA senior vice president of communications Tim Frank to discuss the changes:
"It was time to take a fresh look," Frank said. "We've basically had the same rules for 30-plus years and with the changing media landscape it was clear there were redundancies and we needed to adjust."
Players frequently didn't talk when injured, and in the case of recent late-season injuries to Derrick Rose and Kevin Garnett, their teams' seasons ended before they ever spoke to reporters after getting hurt. The new rules require a player with a long-term injury to meet with the media within a week of the diagnosis, if medically possible, and speak once a week after he returns to practice, even if he hasn't resumed playing in games.
I can tell you first hand that Frank is very, very good at his job, and he’s not exactly asking injured types to go through the ringer in speaking to the press at every game they attend. Frank and the NBA also limited the amount of time players have to be available to reporters prior to the game from 45 minutes down to 30. Pre-game quotes from players are a huge help to working newspaper reporters as they write up secondary stories on deadline before and during that night’s games, but players routinely dodge the press prior to the game to receive “treatment” in a trainer’s room that is off limits to reporters. Kevin Garnett’s career-long hesitancy to co-operate in a timely manner pre and postgame to NBA reporters on deadline has been in place since the 1990s.
As an NBA scribe whose loyalties remain with the Chicago Bulls as a basketball fan, I stayed staunchly on Derrick Rose’s side as he took as much time as he saw fit to return to the court following his ACL tear. That said, his refusal to speak with the press during his rehabilitation left both reporters in a lurch, and his fans frustrated at the ongoing silence.
With Rose returning to Bulls practice just after the All-Star break, his ongoing press boycott hurt his image more than it helped, as even his most ardent supporters (like, perhaps, the guy typing this out) were at the very best dubious and at the very worst disappointed in how the entire 13-month process following Rose’s injury, Chicago’s rebuilding, the regular season and playoff run went down.
A little more transparency, even if it’s rife with clichés and go-to throwaway quotes, always helps. And as a fan, more than an NBA analyst, I appreciate Tim Frank and the NBA’s move toward increased communication between NBA players, and their supporters.