Today was a tough day for basketball, and an even tougher day for Portland Trailblazer fans. Brandon Roy has retired after just five seasons. But man, what an incredibly bright star he was in that time. I will be inspired by his play during that period forever.
I will cry no tears for Roy’s retirement, for to do so would undermine the incredible gift and joy he gave to Blazer fans. He gave the gift of hope. Which is why today is leaving a sharp pain in our collective gut.
Playing a game of what-if and rehashing the tired narrative of ‘we must be cursed’ is also a detriment to the proper legacy that Brandon Roy deserves.
Brandon Roy emerged on the Portland scene when much of the city and fan base had lost hope in professional basketball. We had grown frustrated with a decade of talented but overpaid stars who seemed to care nothing about the team, or the community. Basketball in Portland became the cruel punchline of the NBA. As a group of fans, we were left cowering in the corner, and stuck with a losing team.
Then with a few right bounces of some ping pong balls, we had an optimistic and multi-talented shooting guard out of the University of Washington.
His rookie season was the stuff of legend.
He didn’t seem like a rookie at all.
He dissected defenses with the efficiency of a mid-career Scottie Pippen. He was just as comfortable nailing the last second game winner as he was passing to a teammate for the final glory. He was a likable, team first superstar in a city that had forgotten those could exist.
Portland fans looked around at each other with disbelief. Suddenly they had something to be proud of again. Suddenly they had ammunition when Laker fans would tear into them. It was our young team leader, who had put the entire franchise on his back, and was able to deliver time and time and time again. Fans across the league couldn’t argue with the results. Brandon Roy was a winner.
The key moment of that rookie campaign was when Roy confronted the lazy but established team leader, Zach Randolph in the crucial moments of a game. He called out the selfish Randolph to put the team first. The incident bristled Randolph, but became a badge of honor and a turning point in the minds of Blazer fans.
And with that, the Blazers officially became Roy’s team. Randolph was soon shipped out, and the debate was over.
The following seasons saw the Blazers winning fifty plus games and making strong runs into the playoffs. It was a young team, captained by a young player, but he didn’t play or act like a young player. He defied comparisons with his slow-tempo, smooth play. And he had the ability to shock and amaze even the crusitiest of life long Blazer faithful. He became the player that both young and old could rally around. It seemed as if he’d played in high pressure NBA games for a decade. He was a general on the floor and with the media. He was an incredible face to a franchise.
Thank you Brandon for packing in as much hope and excitement as you did in those five seasons.
You made Portland believe in basketball again. We believed that basketball could be great during any era, and that we didn’t need the names of ghosts like Drexler and Walton to believe.
Thank you for shifting the basketball discussion in Portland into the present tense.
With the history we have had, that is not a small feat.
Roy’s playing days may be over, but here’s to hoping the impact he had in five bright seasons will shine on in Rip City into the forseeable future.
I’m gonna go watch a B-Roy mix tape on YouTube.
The Portland front office should go make preparations to raise a #7 banner to the rafters ASAP.
Thank you Brandon.
Best wishes with your next chapter.Tweet
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