When NBA star Derrick Rose crumpled to the floor of the United Center with a torn ACL during last year’s playoffs, his Chicago Bulls saw their championship hopes come to an end. However, Adidas saw something else: an opportunity. The shoe company recently created a six-part web series based on their star spokesman, chronicling his recovery from the devastating injury.
The series, titled The Return, recently posted its final episode, where Rose thanks his fans for supporting him even as he is off of the court. Even when he is the star of a production with millions of views, Rose still comes off as a fairly humble guy. It’s hard to tell what is scripted by Adidas and what is coming from Rose himself (though if I had to guess, I’d generally pick the former), and depending on how you feel about professional athletes, you’ll either find The Return to be an honest portrayal of a role model who is persevering towards the top or a cheap gimmick through which a rich man was able to get richer. I’ll report, and you can decide.
Rose is hardly the first NBA star to star in his own web series. Kobe Bryant recently launched Mission, a series about fighting homelessness, on TakePartTV, while Lebron James’ The Lebrons was a big hit last year to the tune of several million views. Of course, former baller Shaquille O’Neal has taken things to the next level, launching the Comedy Shaq YouTube Original Channel. Several of these efforts are branded, and it’s clear that professional athletes can drive views on the Internet just as well as in other media spheres.
Of course, the ending to The Return has yet to be written; Rose still needs to finish his rehab and return to the Bulls, who are struggling without him. If he is successful, The Return may need a postscript. As it stands, it’s still a must watch for any basketball fan.