Ending Before Things Get Started
It was Dec. 10, 2011. It’s just two weeks before the lockout shortened NBA season was set to begin. Three-time All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy informed the Portland Trail Blazers of his plans to retire. In a statement released by the Trail Blazers, Roy expressed his anguish in the ordeal. “This is a very difficult and painful day. I love the game, I love the Portland Trail Blazers and I love our fans, but after consulting with my doctors, I will seek a determination that I’ve suffered a career ending injury”.
So just like that only five seasons into a bright NBA career, Brandon Roy was retired. He was leaving the game that he was just beginning to reach the pinnacle of.
Roy had been ailed by knee pain since his days at the University of Washington. His knees weren’t to big of an issue through the first couple years of his career. It wasn’t until April of 2010 that anything major came about with his knees. That spring, Roy was shut down due to an MRI revealing a a meniscus tear in his right knee.
By April of 2011, he was back on the shelf after needing arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Roy returned for the playoffs once again. He struggled for the first three games of the series before putting on a classic performance in Game four against the Dallas Mavericks. Roy scored 18 Points in the fourth quarter to lead the Blazers to victory.
Fast forward six months, the Blazers are announcing they are using the amnesty clause to rid themselves of Roy’s max contract.
Roy gave it one more go in the 2012-2013 season as he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Persistent knee problems put an end to his comeback story.
What Could Have Been
Six seasons, three All-Star appearances, and one Rookie of the Year award. It’s not an unjust argument to suggest that Brandon Roy was on pace to a Hall of Fame career. Through his first four seasons in the NBA, Roy averaged over twenty points, five assists, and four rebounds. He’s only one of thirteen players in NBA history to accomplish this feat. He joined the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. His career was on a legendary trajectory.
Roy was an outstanding scorer that could score at all three levels. He lacked elite athleticism but what he lacked in athleticism, he complete made up for it in pure scoring ability. He had an elite knack for creating space for his pull-up jumper. Roy’s offensive game was a perfect blend of crisp and polish with a flare for the dramatic.
The landscape of the NBA was beginning to change when Roy was playing. The League hadn’t yet adopted the pace of today’s game. Roy would’ve been a perfect scorer for today’s pace and space NBA. He would have scored 25 a night with the amount of possessions and touches he’d get in today’s NBA.
The Trail Blazers are a true what if story. Imagine where they’d be if we got to see a healthy Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden core taking the court in the Rose City. Even consider just Roy and Aldridge with Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews as complimentary pieces.
This dude was really really really good at basketball. Best player I’ve ever played with https://t.co/7k1HnJuWDl— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) April 3, 2018
Only a few years removed from having their hearts ripped by passing up on Kevin Durant for Greg Oden, hope was restored in Portland with Roy. Just like that it was ripped away from them once again. Six seasons, three All-Star Appearances, and one Rookie of the Year award later, it was all over for Brandon Roy.
After, three years away from the game of basketball, Brandon Roy found a new way to be involved in the game that he loved so dearly. Ahead of the 2016-2017 season, Roy took over the head coaching duties at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School. He entered the job with top NCAA recruits Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter on his roster. In his one season at the school, Roy coached Nathan Hale to a 29-0 record en route to a 3A Washington State Championship and a Naismith National Coach of the Year Award.
In 2017, Roy made National headlines after being shot in the leg while guarding children from gun fire in the Los Angeles area.
After his one season at Nathan Hale, he departed from the school. With the Porter brothers both leaving for the University of Missouri, Roy took his talents elsewhere. He’s now coaching Seattle’s Garfield High School, his alma mater. In his first season at Garfield, Coach led the school to a 28-2 record en route to his second state title in two seasons.
Roy was on pace to be an all-time great at the NBA level. He possessed all the tools to excel at the NBA level. He had no issue putting up the numbers to support it. Roy is proof of how quickly injuries can derail a promising career. He’ll always remain one of the biggest what-ifs in NBA history. He was a good guy, he played the game the right way, but at the end of the day, his body gave up on him. Imagine if the guy had a legit healthy ten to fifteen year career. There’s no telling where we’d be putting him in the all-time greats listings.
Respects to a Legend
Major respect to Roy for taking what he learned from the game of basketball and spreading the knowledge upon our youth. He has every right to be a bitter ex-NBA player whose career ended just too short. Instead, he’s using his experiences as a platform to uplift the next generation of hoopers. So Thank You, Brandon, not just for the the six years of hard work and excellence you gave to the NBA but for the years of wisdom you have left to give. One day we’ll see him back on an NBA floor, but this time in the league’s coaching ranks. Much like his offense, he will make an impact in this game in more ways than one.