It’s important to know that Rose’s story can never be looked at through just a basketball perspective. The story of Rose is fundamentally tied up with who he is and what he has done.
In 2016, Rose faced a civil trial where an ex-girlfriend accused him and two of his friends of gang-raping her three years before. He was found not liable.
In another world, it’s possible that would have been the end of it. In the United States, people are innocent until proven guilty. The courts exist for a reason, and they made their verdict.
But let me make it clear — we don’t live in a different world. We can't ignore it.
The details of the case are appalling. I won’t litigate it in its entirety here. Much better writers than me, namely Clinton Yates of The Undefeated, have already done it. You need to read it to understand what I am talking about, but I’ll give a very brief CliffsNotes.
During the case, Rose openly admitted not to knowing what “consent” means.
During the case, the plaintiff claimed she was intoxicated and could not give consent. Rose and his two friends claimed otherwise.
During the case, when asked if he and his two friends were specifically invited to have sex with the plaintiff, he responded, “No, but we men. You can assume … like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1 a.m., there’s nothing to talk about.”
During the case, Rose’s defense attempted to portray the plaintiff as an overly sexual person and as someone who drank frequently. It is perhaps the most infamous defense of accused rape, to paint the victim as “having it coming.”
To know these facts, and then to see LeBron call Rose a “superhero,” makes me feel ill. To see official Twitter accounts, from not just the Timberwolves, but also the Bulls and the NBA as a whole, heap praise on him makes me feel ill. To see Shams Charania write a fawning profile about Rose’s love of the sport and his dedication to come back from injury — without even mentioning what he was accused of and what he said — makes me feel ill.
If you follow me on social media, you know I’m a huge proponent of not “sticking to sports." I’m an avid supporter of Colin Kaepernick. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are some of my personal heroes due to their work publicly addressing police brutality and gun violence in cities. I know in my heart if we include the best about what athletes do outside of sports, it is all the more necessary to include the worst.
Too often we overlook the misdeeds of our sports heroes, especially when it comes to sexual violence. Kobe Bryant is the other less-than-shining example. Again, please read up on this. Read the details, read the tactics his defense used, how he and his lawyers treated the plaintiff.
For most of my life, I knew generally about the accusations, but dismissed it as something he probably hadn’t done. And that was my fault. His PR blitz that came after the fact was all a carefully crafted tactic to make us forget that he was credibly accused of raping a woman and then, according to the victim, bullied and shamed her into silence.
I bring up Bryant because he’s a hero to a lot of people. Rose was one of my heroes too, before the allegations came out.
Athletes have done appalling things in the past. The world is large, and there is a place for forgiveness. Look at the case of Tim Hardaway, who went from declaring his hate for the LGBTQ+ community in 2007 on Dan Le Batard’s radio show, to an outspoken gay rights activist who has not only apologized but has worked to fix himself and his mistakes.
Rose hasn’t done that. Not in the slightest. His accuser is set to be heard for an appeal later this month. He may be found liable, he may not. I don’t know.
What I know is that as long as his statements in court stand, as long as he refuses to be fully transparent and as long as the NBA and the media continue to fawn over him in spite of it, I will feel sick.
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org