Throughout the course of the season, Travis Outlaw and I have developed
somewhat of a postgame routine. After I get done bouncing from locker
to locker collecting video or audio from various players and coaches, I
stand in front of Travis’ stall with a copy of the final box score as
he asks me questions about his statistics or those of the player he
spent the bulk of the night guarding.
“How many rebounds I get?”
“What percentage did I shoot from three?”
“They give that steal to me or LA?”
I’ll make Travis guess first before telling him the answer. Then,
depending on his satisfaction with the answer, he’ll explain why he had
a hard go of it or boast a little about his accomplishment. I usually
follow up with a question or two on how he felt about his performance,
then I leave him alone so he can get dressed and be on his way and so I
can go about completing my postgame responsibilities.
this little back and forth sporadically, but as the season went on,
Travis made a habit of calling me over to his locker for our one-on-one
recap of the night’s events. So now I make sure to carry around the
final box until I have a chance to give sit with Trav and discuss the
details. It’s become one of my favorite routines on game nights, right
up there with my nightly cup of fresh fruit in the commissary.
discussions usually take place after games at the Rose Garden due to
the fact that I only travel with the team on occasion. Luckily for me,
making the playoffs is one of those occasions.
So after last
Friday night’s loss, I stood in front of Travis’ stall, sandwiched in
the visiting locker room of the Toyota Center between various members
of the media, waiting with box score in hand. And sure enough, Travis
had a question.
“How many points did Artest score?” asked Outlaw.
was pretty sure I knew what the answer was without looking at the box,
but I decided to do a quick check anyway, just to be certain.
I was scanning the sheet for the answer to Travis’ question, Brandon
Roy, whose locker is next to Outlaw’s on the road, walked over to his
stall fresh from the showers. Brandon had heard Travis’ question, and
he already knew the answer.
“Nine,” said Roy. “Ron had nine.”
Roy told Outlaw the news, he put out his hand for a fist bump. The
Trail Blazers had lost and Outlaw hadn’t had a good night offensively,
but Roy was there to offer his congratulations nonetheless.
I asked Brandon the next day who gave Travis that fist bump: Brandon Roy the friend or Brandon Roy the team leader?
said Roy. “Travis, I felt, did a great job. Everybody is concerned with
his scoring, but I was proud that he didn’t let that affect his
defense. And I had to let him know that. Sometimes that stuff gets lost
in what’s going on, but I thought Travis did a great job of stopping
Ron Artest. Even though he wasn’t able to play all that well
offensively, he did a great job defensively.”
It struck me that
Roy could sense Outlaw needed some support. It’s been a hard series for
Travis, something he readily admits, and Brandon is smart enough to
know that and to know that the team needs Outlaw playing well to have a
chance of winning the series. And what’s more, he’s intuitive enough to
recognize when someone, be it a friend or a teammate or both, needs
some words of encouragement.
Travis has been asking a lot more
about his defensive lately. I give him my honest opinion, but sometimes
I really don’t know, as I tend to look at the game as a whole rather
than the sum of individual parts. But people smarter than I, guys like
Roy, are better sources of that information anyway.
of him that he’s mature in understanding that just because Travis isn’t
playing great offense doesn’t mean he can’t do anything for this team,”
said Roy. “I think guarding Ron Artest the way he did helped us stay in
the game. Ron wasn’t able to extend that lead like he normally would be
able to. I was extremely proud of how he played defensively and I had
to let him know. That’s part of being a friend and a teammate.”
It’s also part of being an emerging superstar.