The first time I saw Derrick Rose try to tear down the United Center was in February 2006. I was a senior at a high school in suburban Chicago, and Simeon was playing Washington for the city’s public league championship. By then, anyone who cared about basketball in Chicago had heard about Rose. When a friend saw the game was to be broadcast on local station WCIU, a few of us ordered pizza and settled in front of the TV.
Growing up where we did when we did, we’d already become familiar with high school basketball greatness. Before he was making faces at Duke, Jon Scheyer spent four years becoming a living legend in Illinois. Everyone who followed basketball in the area had a Scheyer story, and mine was from his 2004-05 junior season. Scheyer and eventual state champs Glenbrook North traveled to Loyola University in Chicago to face Waukegan for a trip to the state quarterfinals. The same group that would watch Rose on TV made the drive to the packed gym, and while in line for soda, we heard an opposing fan say in a mocking tone that he was sure Scheyer would score 50. Technically, the crack was justified. Scheyer only had 48.
Early in his senior year, the local paper printed GBN’s schedule next to a story that implored people to go see Scheyer play while they had a chance. Everyone assumed that Scheyer, who averaged more than 32 points a game as a senior, would head downstate to make it two in a row. And he might have, if not for Derrick Rose.
Welcome back to your monthly dose of Schadenfreude. Here at the Depressed Fan Base Committee, our job is to kick a city while it is down. And man, there are some down cities in this country. This month, 10 voters identified 35 cities as worthy of recognition. Along with the Top 10 list below, nominees included Detroit; Atlanta; Stillwater, Okla.; every city in Texas; the entire state of North Carolina; and the Three M's: Montreal, Manchester, and Milwaukee. (They still call those “The Three M's,” right?)
Disclaimer the First: We're not doing Happy Valley or Syracuse, so don't even ask. I had a whole slew of jokes lined up, but the Department of Justice flagged every single one. Come on, DoJ, don't you guys have something better to be flagging? I've got a neighbor who listens to Bruno Mars nonstop, and he doesn't even get audited by the IRS.
Many thanks to Friend of Grantland Dave, who e-mailed editor-in-chief Bill Simmons this week to express some NBA-related ideas and rage. Good news, Dave! We love both ideas and rage here. We're publishing his e-mail (with minimal edits) below to share the anger. Thanks again, to Dave, who is kicking off our "reader e-mail rant" occasional feature.
I grew up in a house that is about three miles from football’s most famous hill. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old the first time my dad took me there. The area was a landfill then — mostly trash, brush, dirt, and rocks, with a few small paths carved into tall grass. "This is it," he said. "This is Walter Payton’s hill." And he didn’t need to say anything else.
Like any suburban Chicago kid born as Payton’s career was ending, all I had were the stories — of running that hill, of end zone leaps, of refusing to duck out of bounds. That, and what seemed like 100 viewings of a VHS tape in my grandparents’ basement called Super Bowl Champions: The Story of the 1985 Chicago Bears (I was the only kindergartener in greater Chicagoland who thought Wilber Marshall was the greatest pass-rusher ever). That team still rules Chicago. I was 12 when Payton died. The news came late in the afternoon, just before the drive to football practice. I cried the whole way there.