Gang signs and professional athletes, as you might imagine, don't mix very well. Especially if you're the multi-million dollar organization, or the multi-billion dollar league that employs the athlete in question. Quite simply, it's bad PR, which in turn is bad for business.
That's why Rose issued a statement apologizing for his appearance in the photo, even though it's pretty clear after reading it that he (in all likelihood) had absolutely nothing to do with drawing it up.
"This photo of me was taken at a party I attended in Memphis while I was in school there, and was meant as a joke ... a bad one, I now admit. I want to emphatically state, now and forever, that Derrick Rose is anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence. I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with any gang and I can't speak loudly enough against gang violence, and the things that gangs represent.Anyone who has spoken to Rose in person, or has seen him interviewed on television knows that these are probably not his words. They might be his words translated by a member of the Bulls' media relations staff or legal team, but this is too tightly-written and all-inclusive to come from a 20-year-old player that has just come into the league.
"In posing for this picture, I am guilty of being young, naive and of using extremely poor judgment. I sincerely apologize to all my fans for my mistake. I pride myself on being a good citizen, and role model, that young people can look up to and I want to urge all my young fans to stay away from gangs and gang-related activities."
There's nothing wrong with that of course, but the whole thing is kind of ridiculous. It's clear that the NBA and/or the Bulls organization were simply covering their [backsides] by issuing this statement on Rose's behalf, but in all honesty, it's a shame it was even necessary.
Rose is a spectacular player who's going to be one of the faces of the league in the very near future, so obviously the NBA can't have sponsors turning on him based on this "image" that a single, slightly aged photo is depicting. But issuing a statement like this saying that Rose is against, well, pretty much anything that is bad just seems like an overreaction, and an insincere one at that.