I have very little idea of what it takes to be a professional athlete. To be a vital piece of a professional sports team. To be an all-star in a professional sports league.
What I have is common sense, loyalty and an abundance of faith. I know right from wrong. I know not to turn on someone who has provided inspiration to me. I know to give people the chances and opportunities they deserve.
I also know that there are some -- few, but some -- who are treating the Trail Blazers' Brandon Roy unfairly. I've heard wide-ranging comments; none of which I feel deserve to be reposted here. Suffice to say, I am shocked at all of these. I thought those in the Blazer Nation had much more class -- and the great majority does. As with most things, it's just a few misrepresenting the many.
Voicing criticism a player's performance is one thing. Pointing out that player is in a slump is only natural. Wondering why a player isn't playing like himself is commonplace.
I think all of us would like Brandon to be the player we remember watching the past few years. However, most of us realize that with his recent knee issues, he is not. According to most accounts, Brandon will never likely be the player he once was. The hope is that he will be able to be the player we need.
I don't know a single person who expected Brandon to score just one point in two playoff games, nor play the low number of minutes he played in game two. Both have happened. He played a scant eight minutes in the second game against Dallas, with his substitution off the bench being uncharacteristically brief.
"I came in with 1:59 on the clock and then, boom, I'm right back out," Brandon said after the game. "I don't know what I could have done."
From all I've heard about and know of Brandon, one thing is clear: He is more frustrated than anyone else.
With the exception of a couple of standout games, He's not been the same since coming back in early March from surgery in both knees. By the time he returned, the entire format of his team had changed. He was no longer the focal point in the offense; that had fallen to LaMarcus Aldridge. He was no longer the starter; Wesley Matthews was now in the lineup. He was no longer familiar with his role; it had changed.
Can Brandon become an effective piece of the Blazers puzzle? Can he still contribute? Is his drive still there? I believe the answer to all those questions is yes. I also believe that it's not going to be figured out during one playoff series.
LaMarcus has taken on the role as the number one option, but there's very little doubt amongst most with whom I've spoken that Brandon is still the face of the franchise (no offense to LaMarcus).
Brandon Roy with his Rookie of the Year trophy
Both came into the league in the same summer draft; both through draft-day trades; both infused the team and fans with exciting play and exemplary character. They joined the Blazers when the Blazers needed them, and needed more players like them. Brandon and LaMarcus brought the Blazers out of the darkest era in team history. That history, commonly referred to as the "Jail Blazers era," had decimated the team's fan base. Brandon and LaMarcus led the Blazers out of it.
He won rookie of the year, conference player of the week and was a three-time all-star. the Blazers began to improve. Fans began to return. After just a couple years, Portland had its fans back and they were proud of their team. Most notably, the were proud of the face of the franchise; a team leader who exemplified what fans were looking for; on and off the court.
So what now of a few fair-weather, impatient and impulsive people (I do not call call them "fans" because they truly are not) who would throw to the dogs the best thing to happen to the Blazers in the past five years? Does anyone really care what they think? I do not care about them. As far as I'm concerned, they can go pollute another team or player.
I honestly don't know how Brandon's career is going to pan out. Perhaps all he needs is a full off-season to get on track and be that productive and reliable contributor. If so, there's no doubt in my mind that Brandon is up to the task. I have faith in him.
Brandon deserves our respect (and a whole lot of it), well wishes (a whole lot of them) and support (a whole lot of that too). I trust, the true fans of the Blazer Nation understand that and understand that the few naysayers are not true members of said Nation.
To Brandon Roy: Please do not listen to certain comments intended to derail you or the team. You are admired by the true fans of the team. You always have been and always will be. Please remember that.
I remain a fan of Brandon Roy.
Note: As I had finished this blog, I visited NBA-dot-com, who was featuring a poll question: Do you think Brandon Roy deserves more playing time for the Blazers? As of 10 p.m. on April 20, 78 percent of the poll takers were saying "yes."