Monday, February 14, 2011

D. Rose, Superman (Bx3 #9)

Previous Comic - Next Comic
Professional athletes become professionals based primarily on their athletic ability (well except maybe for those lingerie football players). Teams can market the athletes and create enthusiastic fans simply by putting a good product on the field of play (Some teams don’t seem to get that fundamental point- but that’s a discussion for a different day). Companies likewise looking for athlete endorsers can try to draw comparisons between the product that they are selling and the grace and power of said athletes; either showing them in motion performing the sport they’ve spent their lives perfecting, or in a stance of silent confidence derived from those past athletic feats. 
They don’t necessarily need the players to come out and directly ‘endorse’ the product (Hello, I’m Rudy Fernandez, and I don’t shave very often, but when I do I prefer the manly musk that only Brut aftershave…). The audience is smart enough (or programmed enough by years of marketing) to makes the connection without the athlete having to say it directly. 
Hey! This is a web-comic, not some kind of sports-economics lecture, what are you getting at here?

Sorry- the point is that it’s not absolutely necessary to have an outsized personality for an athlete to become a star. We’ve all heard hundreds of cut-and dry player interviews full of platitudes and cliché. How many pro athletes can you truly call ‘personalities’ off the court? 
Shaq and Dwight Howard of course would be two well known notable exceptions. Shaq can always be relied on for an irreverent Shaq-ism, and Dwight, well Dwight has the goofiness and likability that wins the hearts of little kids and mom’s everywhere (yet somehow gets T’d up at a Rasheed like pace). They’ve managed to balance their outsized size and games with outsized personalities off the court. 
Which brings us to Derrick Rose. Rose is having a great season- even getting some not-unearned buzz as a possible MVP candidate (Here’s a nice round-up of related quotes from the Bull’s blog ‘By the Horns’. I just hope that if he does somehow win it (the odds are long in my humble opinion, but that’s just as much about MVP politics than Rose’s performance) he shows a little more excitement than he did when he won the rookie of the year award.

This is something that I noticed when Rose first entered the league. Of all the dry athlete interviewees out there, he may be the driest. It may be a lack of personality. It could be a supreme humility. It may even just be the natural result of a young guy famous for playing a sport being asked personal questions for the consumption of millions of eager viewers. I don’t know how my personality (which is great by the way- ha ha) would hold up under those bright lights either.

He could be a completely different person if you know him personally. I have no way of knowing from where I’m sitting on the couch and behind a computer. All I see is the contrast between the amazing way he can set basketball courts on fire, and how he throws wet blankets over interviewer’s attempts to get anything out of him.

I immediately thought of a superhero’s secret identity (which led to the convoluted concept for this week’s comic). Is Derrick Rose the interviewee the alter-ego of Derrick Rose the basketball player? Maybe basketball players should literally go by superhero-like nicknames on court, so we don’t expect the same level of performance off the court from their everyday Clark Kent personas.

(Small disclaimer: I’ve never read a Superman comic in my life, or seen much local Bulls media, so maybe Clark Kent is really the life of the office, and D. Rose has warmed to be the media spot-light and I'm completely air-balling here...)