The nerds among us will recall “The Menagerie” or “The Cage,” episodes of the first Star Trek series featuring white-robed, big-headed aliens who could mind-control people into seeing illusions instead of reality. (The big heads were supposed to contain extra-big brains, but they looked more like shaved, extra-big -- . . . um, this is a family-friendly site, right? They were brains, I tell you, brains.) The aliens were called Talosians. (Yes, I had to look their name up – but I’m geek enough to remember the episodes.)
I’m here to warn you – Brandon Roy is a Talosian.
Sure, he looks more like one of those hyper-intelligent, always-offended Geico cavemen. But, as any “Trek” fan can tell you, the appearance of aliens can change with time. Klingons used to look like regular out-of-work actors with caked-on suntan lotion and Genghis Khan facial hair; later, their foreheads resembled Gollum’s spinal cord. (Their hairdos, once close-cropped, suddenly got big and poofy, and possibly inspired Maryam D’Abo in “The Living Daylights.”) Romulans used to look like regular Vulcans; now, they look like out-of work Vulcans with caked-on Goth whitener and tattoos apparently designed by Hermann Rorschach.
Etc, etc . . . The point is, Roy is not of this world. He’s a mind-messer-upper. He’s a Talosian. Consider the evidence:
According to Roy, he’s always had knee problems, and he’s always been slow. How is it, then, that he dazzled opponents his first few years in the league? Illusion. He projected an image into their heads of a much shiftier player, like a version of those dreadlocked guys from “Matrix 2” transposed into “Space Jam.” They couldn’t stop him, because they thought they couldn’t. (Either that, or Roy now is a permanently-injured fraction of his old self – but that’s not what he says.)
Fast-forward to that fatal 2007 Blazer off-season. Is it a coincidence that the Blazers ended up with a pick far higher than their lottery seeding? Or did Roy use his mega-mind to bamboozle the lottery balls?
Then, Roy Confunded the Blazer brass into taking Greg Oden with that pick. Despite Oden’s stated disinterest in basketball. Despite the curse-like legacy of once before, long ago, neglecting to draft a dynamic superstar because the team already had a building-block wing player. Roy made the brain-trust forget about history’s lessons, and convinced them that HE was a Kobe Bryant, LeBron James-type megastar the team should plan its strategy around. (How else can you explain it? Anyone outside Roy’s cranial bandwith-range recognized him as a great but not transcendent player – certainly not a championship cornerstone – yet the team, once again, drafted for “fit” rather than “fantastic.”)
Why, do you ask? Ah, that’s the rub. No superpowered space alien worth his weight in dark matter would possibly use his abilities merely to get a measly few million Earth dollars. There had to be an outside agenda at work – and I think I know whose it was.
It all fits. Roy is “from” Seattle, near Microsoft’s Fortress Of Sellitude. And only Gates’s combination of vast resources and technical know-how could possibly have conjured up a way of luring a malicious space mentalist. Gates’s plan, of course, was to use his intergalactic mercenary to torpedo the TrailBlazer franchise.
Yes, supposedly, Gates and Allen are friends. But that’s what’s said about all of history’s classic backstabbers. (As Popeye said to his Roman assassin: “et tu, Bluto?”) It’ll be years, if ever, before the true story is known. But I suspect Gates held a long-hidden grudge; something over a woman, perhaps, or a man, or a “Weird Science”—style LoveBot the two created together during a month of MS-DOS writer’s block.
So Gates got himself a Talosian. And the rest was easy. The Blazers drafted Roy. Because of Roy, they passed on Durant. After that, all Roy had to do was maintain his psyche-out long enough to get a max contract and for Oden to break down beyond repair.
At which point, of course, massive fan anger and frustration shattered the illusion. (You’ll remember, if you’re a “Trek” person, that the Talosians cannot penetrate powerful negative emotions, which is how Captain Pike broke their spell.) But by then the damage was done. Instead of the league’s most potent inside/out duo, the Blazers have the NBA’s worst-ever draft mistake, a potential locker-room cancer with an untradeable contract, and a fan base reduced to helplessly beeping once for yes and two for no.
I could be wrong, here. It’s vaguely possible Roy is simply a nice guy who’s always relied on his self-confidence to lead him through tough times in his life – a confidence that led him to think he was one of the game’s best players when he was merely one of the game’s better ones. A confidence that is terribly shaken by the first set of injuries he’s ever been unable to play through. And it’s possible that the Blazers didn’t bypass Durant to avoid threatening Roy, that they really thought Oden would be the better player. And it’s possible that the franchise will somehow work through this mess without a long stretch of painful mediocrity and fan indifference that results in the team being contracted or moved.
If anyone wants to believe in that improbable chain of events . . . well, they have their illusion and I have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.