Brandon Roy recently reported that he had another setback to his arthritic knees. This is not the first setback Roy has experienced, since joining the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So why did Brandon Roy return to the NBA?
Certainly Brandon Roy has no reason to lack confidence in himself. He underwent his first knee surgery in high school. Roy’s knee and game recovered fast enough for him to seriously consider making a jump to the NBA straight from high school. While Roy’s knees and athleticism have been declining for over a decade, his skill level underwent a meteoric rise in the opposite direction. Brandon was never a player to enforce his dominance on the court from a purely physical perspective.
As Portland’s franchise player, Roy was brilliant for taking exactly what the defense gave him.
Left handed layup, sweet.
Brandon Roy is one of the best all around shooters in the world. Many haters are caught up on Brandon Roy’s poor shooting percentage (.314) this season, but a 35 shot sample size is no where near enough to formulate proper judgement. In those same five games with Minnesota, the team went 4-1, and Roy tallied 23 assists (9 one game in 26 minutes) which is a better indicator that Roy was not off base; having the self confidence needed for a return to the court.
Did Brandon come back for the money?
Roy was amnestied in 2010 and sat out one whole year. After much thought, Roy returned from “retirement” and signed a two year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Many have reported Roy earned one million dollars for each of the five games he has played in (and started) this NBA season. That is not true because for each dollar Roy earns as a member of the Timberwolves, fifty-cents is subtracted from the amount Portland owes that year. Roughly 500k per game still ain’t shabby. After the 2012-2013 season, Brandon Roy still has two more under his max extension granted by Portland. $16,359,805 this year, $17,799,458 next, and finally $14,399,332 in the 2014-2015 season. $18,909,805 is the pre tax total of what Portland and Minnesota combined to pay Roy this year. From Brandon Roy’s contract with Portland this season alone, he will earn more than Lebron James with the Heat. To keep the checks from Minnesota rolling in, he needs to stay with the team. It could very well be a financial decision for Roy to delay his retirement announcement until after the season. While this is okay for Roy to delay his decision to retire until after this NBA season, it may be unethical for him to stay with Minnesota next year without intention of playing.
Fans of Roy need to be supportive, of whatever decisions he makes. Brandon Roy has always been an enigma to his fans. The superstar athletes who have kept their personal lives as private as Roy are few and far between. After Roy’s last game with Portland in 2010, he did not appear publicly for more than half a year. When Brandon finally turned up in the crowd at the Rose Garden, it was not to watch his old teammates, but rather he was in town to celebrate his best friends birthday, Jamal Crawford. Of course fans that night at the Rose Garden (where his number will be raised in the rafters) gave him a standing ovation.
Truth is that no one could possibly understand the inner workings of Brandon Roy’s mind and his decision to come back. The Trailblazer’s chose to amnesty Roy abruptly, and his say held little weight when that many millions could be relieved from their salary cap. Brandon Roy was not critical of the hand that had been feeding him, and supported Portland’s verdict. Roy’s support of the club amnestying him was mistaken by most as his retirement from the game.
Professional athletes generally undergo a much slower shot to the ego than Brandon Roy did. Rookie of the year, three straight All Star appearances, playoff heroics (against the Mavs during their championship run) the next season, then Portland’s management relieved their ties to his maximum contract weeks afterwards. Public opinion of Brandon Roy’s ability to ball, free-fell when Portland went on to rebuild without the burden of his maximum contract. The Trailblazers should not be criticized for this, as no team can justify spending max money on a player whose minutes needed limiting. There is an astronomic difference between a franchise level player, and one who cannot crack an NBA team’s rotation. Roy knows damn well his level of play had not slipped that far, and at the very least; his return with Minnesota will provide himself peace of mind.
The whole world has been telling Roy he is too slow, and that if he continues to play, he won’t be able to walk in twenty years. Brandon is a grown man. As his fans, we need to respect his decision to return, and likewise when he decides to walk away from the game. Most great athletes draw inspiration from their naysayers. Do you blame him for trying to add a heroic NBA comeback on his resume after one year out of the league? Everyone in sports media has chimed in negatively on Roy’s knees in the past years. The tone in Roy banter has taken a 180 degree turn. Roy went from one of the most humble and loved characters in the NBA, to having nasty comments surface about him from every angle, saying he is washed up and selfish for making so much money. Brandon Roy needed to prove to himself that his knees could not withstand the rigors of an NBA game anymore. Roy knows his body better than anyone else, and he has been playing on repaired knees for over a decade. Trust Roy while he explores his own limitations on this basketball journey instead of being judgmental.
One thing we know as certain, is that the Brandon Roy knee saga will be an everlasting topic of conversation. Instead of pondering; what if? Cherish the great memories he did leave us with.