A picture can be worth 1000 words, or in this case, closer to 600. Thursday afternoon the Drexel Men’s Basketball Instagram account posted a picture that brought delight to a number of Drexel basketball fans. Zach Spiker and his program was able to get the best player to ever don the blue and gold back into the DAC.
The reasons behind his lengthy absence from Drexel are speculated about but not publicly known or confirmed, but for whatever reason, Drexel Alum Malik Rose was back at the DAC this week. Rose is part of a rather exclusive club at Drexel University. Along with Michael Anderson and most recently Damion Lee, Rose is one of just three Dragons to ever play in the NBA. He is also the most successful, playing over 800 games for the Charlotte Hornets, the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City, and most successfully the San Antonio Spurs, as he was part of two championship winning teams, one in 1998-99 and 2002-2003.
After his career, the charismatic Rose spent some time in the broadcast booth before heading for the front office, first of the Atlanta Hawks as manager of basketball operations, before being moved to the team’s G League affiliate Erie BayHawks in 2017, when he was named the NBA G League’s Basketball Executive of the Year. In 2018 he moved to the Detroit Pistons where he currently serves as the team’s assistant general manager. Rose has had quite a successful career, but we must never forget that his path to success started at Drexel University.
26 years ago Rose was a fresh faced, paint battling freshman who was listed by the program as being 6’7 and 250 lbs. hailing from Overbook High School in Philadelphia which, coincidentally, was also Wilt Chamberlain’s alma mater. He shattered team records. He ripped down boards and stuffed home dunks in front of capacity Drexel crowds. Rose is one of just three players to score more than 2,000 points along with Anderson and John Rankin. He also collected over 1,500 rebounds over the course of his career all while leading the Dragons to three NCAA appearances.
The picture immediately sparked some nostalgia. His mere presence was a reminder of what could be. 26 years ago it was Bill Herrion patrolling the sidelines as Drexel skyrocketed to the top of the America East Conference. It was Rose and underdogs like Brian Holden and Mike Derocckis on the floor leading the Dragons into the NCAA tournament and eventually past nationally ranked Memphis.
It was Herrion who took over from long-time Drexel coach Eddie Burke on the heels of three losing seasons who propelled the Dragons forward, paving the way for their eventual move to the CAA under James “Bruiser” Flint. Now, Zach Spiker is at the helm, entering his third season with a team full of his own recruits. He took over a struggling program inside a building with a lot of empty seats and plenty of challenges on his plate.
Can Spiker’s Dragons eventually duplicate the success of Herrion and Rose? Time will tell, but fans should look at Rose’s presence as a reminder of what is possible when everything comes together. Believe it or not, lightning can strike in the same place twice. With a little bit of help, maybe it will happen at the corner of 33rd and Market.