Thanks for the Great Basketball Memories, BROY!
By Andrew Sarmiento Posted in: Blazers, BrandonRoy
I didn't expect to wake up to this. Brandon Roy, the Portland Trail Blazers' 3-time all-star and one-time franchise player was set to retire from professional basketball. After undergoing a physical doctors told Roy that his playing years were over and that if he continued to play, he could face the possibility of not walking at all in the future. No more cartilage, no more playing. The career of the only player I've followed over the past few years is over.
We always believed that our heroes were indestructible, that they would last forever and never leave us. During the lockout, I had hoped that Brandon's knees would get better with the extended off-season. After Nate McMillan and Larry Miller's statements a few days ago regarding Roy's state of mind and him being part of Portland's plans for the season, my feeling of hope turned into excitement. I printed out the Blazers' 66-game schedule and taped it on the wall of my office. I installed apps for my phone that would help me keep track of news, scores and stats throughout the season. Brandon was ready and so was I.
What I was not prepared for was today's news. The apps I installed did what they were supposed to do, each one of them confirming the story of the day, each one taking the wind out of me. I was shocked. I was sad. On this cold December day, my basketball hero learns that his knees won't allow him to play another NBA game. Just like that.
I can't say that I fully understand everything in the NBA, much less basketball in general. CBAs, BIRs, MLEs, etc. These are just letters to me. For me, being a fan is more than just knowing the numbers and statistics and contracts. It's the feeling of belonging, rising and falling with your team and your favorite players. It was Brandon Roy who pulled me back to watching the game more closely. He made me a fan again of a sport dominated by egos and endorsements. He was a joy to watch, a warrior on the court and a gentleman off the court. The city of Portland loved him and he loved them back. He played with his heart on his sleeve and never let his injuries get in the way of his game. It's sad to think that he won't win a championship, accept an MVP award and won't get to represent the USA in the Olympics. As part of the coaching staff or management maybe but as a player, no. But like what he showed during games 3 and 4 of the 2011 playoffs, there's always a new chapter, a new beginning. He can now focus on the more important things in his life, his family and his health.
Before I end this, I'd like to share my favorite Brandon Roy moment: Game 4 against Dallas in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Living outside the United States, NBA games are always broadcast in the morning. Game 4 was earlier than usual and I had to wake up at 5:30 to watch the game scheduled at 6. Unfortunately, the NBA provider wasn't scheduled to air the Portland-Dallas game on TV so I went to my office so I could watch it on-line. What I witnessed was one of the most inspiring things I had ever seen. I knew he had spoken about his diminished role in the team a few days before. I knew he responded with 16 points off the bench in the Game 3 win. But what I didn't expect was that I'd be watching what greatness was all about. In just one whole quarter. It was the Brandon Roy show. After he hit that three with Marion fouling him, I could already feel my hands shaking. Then moments later, at the final buzzer, I had tears in my eyes. It was the only time a sporting event could bring me, a then-29 year old man, to tears. The fact that the man, who had no more cartilage in his knee, could orchestrate one of the biggest comebacks in sports history, was just too much.
Thank you, Brandon. For the amazing buzzer beaters, the killer crossovers, the monster dunks and most of all, your selflessness. Good luck and God speed.