Happy New Year's Eve. I thought it made sense to post a round-up of the many tributes to Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy as we close out 2011.
Click through to read a healthy sampling of Roy thoughts and watch some Roy highlights.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
Jason Quick of The Oregonian writes...
"The more I would try to prepare to have this big comeback year, the worse my knees would continue to feel," Roy said Thursday in his first public comments since July. "As we approached training camp, there was clicking in there, there was something in there really bothering me, and I was starting to feel like I would have to have another (surgery) just to help me get by day-to-day."
"When I say it, career-ending ... it's hard," Roy said, his voice cracking. "Ever since middle school ... you want to be the best player, and to know that dream of aiming to be the best is over, it's tough. Very tough."
NBA.com's top-10 Brandon Roy plays.
Emma Carmichael of Deadspin.com writes...
This was one of my favorite things about Roy's game-and it's one that definitely required good knees. Roy could slash through a defense nearly as well as Dwyane Wade in his early years, and he could find the open man on the perimeter when necessary, but some of his best moments in the NBA came off of his step-back jumpers.
It helped that, like Dirk Nowitzki, Roy was capable of creating an embarrassment of space for himself whenever he wanted. But he went about doing that differently from Dirk. Where Nowitzki uses his body (especially that right foot), his size, and his fadeaway to get a shot off, Roy earned his clean releases on the attack, with a big, sweeping dribble that he always pulled back at the last second. Then he threaded the ball between his legs and squared up to shoot-and he was always squared up, even when he had no right to be-as his defender stumbled into the lane. His step-backs hardly ever even required a fadeaway because he sold the first few steps of the drive so convincingly. The best basketball moves take on something like a personality. Hardaway's crossover was a happy little trick. Jordan's turnaround was imperious and taunting. Roy's step-back combined a little of both.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes...
That day two seasons ago, Roy led the Blazers, Willis Reed-like, to a come-from-behind win over Phoenix. He played 26-plus minutes, including the final 15:22, scored 10 points and helped Portland even the series.
"It gave me chills," coach Nate McMillan said of that game.
That's what Roy did. From his days at Garfield High School, to his All-American season at Washington, to All-Star years with the Blazers, Roy gave us chills.
Art Thiel of NWCN.com writes...
Dan Raley, a longtime colleague at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who now is an editor at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Raley and Roy collaborated on a manuscript for the player's biography, as yet unpublished.
"It's sad," Raley wrote in an email. "Brandon talked to me about making it to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He talked about how much he liked Portland and how he was viewed there. He talked about how his game was so made to order for the pros, unlike college ball, and how early on he realized this.
"(Blazers head coach) Nate (McMillan) told him to take the ball and create with it. He told his dad in his rookie training camp, 'Hey, I think I'm going to be pretty good.' Brandon made a crack that he never could have played for the Phoenix Suns, because of the playground speed they play at. Portland and Nate were perfect for him."
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus writes...
By the time I got to Portland, Roy's career was in full ascent. During the second game I attended on a Prospectus credential,Roy made a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Houston Rockets in overtime on national television. All too often over the last three seasons, I was there to enjoy Roy's heroics first-hand. The last two years, they mostly concerned his triumphant return from injury. During the 2010 playoffs, Roy received one of the loudest ovations I've ever heard when he went to the scorer's table to check in after unexpectedly returning far ahead of schedule from arthroscopic knee surgery. Last spring brought one of the most unforgettable games I've ever attended, Roy's turn-back-the-clock fourth quarter that led a miraculous 23-point comeback against the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. As that game wound down, I had chills thanks to how Roy played and how the Rose Garden responded. That day was made all the more special when ESPN.com asked me after the game to write the lead story chronicling the twin comebacks (by the team and by Roy) to lead their Daily Dime coverage.
After all, when I was first introduced to Roy, it was as the younger brother of a standout Garfield High School senior named Ed Roy. Ed was nearly as talented as Brandon and was a dominant player in high school, but academics kept him from taking his career any further. Brandon came all too close to a similar fate. Ineligible until he could get a qualifying SAT score, he spent the first semester of what would be his freshman year at UW working at a shipping-container plant.
Roy might have ended up one of those "what if?" tales that get whispered in local basketball circles. Instead, through hard work and perseverance, he was able to showcase his skills and his character on a global stage. That's why, as tough as today might be for Roy's fans, it should also be a chance to remember everything he did accomplish before his knees gave out.
CSNNW.com put together this Roy tribute.
Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune writes...
All the Blazer players spoke reverently about Roy on Friday.
Camby looked up at the string of retired numbers hanging from the rafters at the practice facility and offered, "His number sure belongs up there."
It will be soon enough. Roy is the third-greatest Blazer player of all-time, behind only Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton in terms of impact on the franchise.
Greg Jayne of The Columbian writes...
Not long ago, the Blazers were suffering through 27- and 21-win seasons. And five straight years in the Draft Lottery. And a dour reputation for housing miscreants in the locker room.
And while many factors played a role in reversing those fortunes - changes in management, emergence from bankruptcy, smart draft picks and wise trades - Roy was anointed as the symbol of that makeover. He was treated as the George Bailey who reminded fans of how wonderful it was to follow the Blazers.
Sure, there were memorable moments, like a 40-foot game-winner against the Rockets and a 52-point outing against the Suns and a 42-point outburst in Roy's second playoff game. But there was more. Roy was embraced as much for his demeanor as for his talent. It's not every NBA All-Star who keeps a hand-written note reading, "stay humble" in his locker. It's not every millionaire who worked as a teenager hosing down stench-filled shipping containers at the Port of Seattle.
Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal writes...
Early in the 2009 season, I asked him some sports business questions: Do you follow the front office's non-basketball moves; what could they do better; and how do the blazers compare operationally with other teams? He handled each of them politically and analytically well. He did, at one point, mention a couple of franchises that he'd heard were in trouble.
A Blazers spokesman called me the next day and asked that I not use that comment because it might seem like Roy was disparaging other teams. I hadn't planned to, because it didn't squarely fit with the theme of my story. But the impression stuck: Brandon Roy is as honest an athlete as there is.
Here's a must-watch (again) video tribute from YouTube user MaxaMillion711.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie writes...
Just two years ago, Roy was nipping on Kobe Bryant's heels. His per-game numbers were limited due to Portland's league-slowest pace, but when you accounted for that pace his accomplishments were substantial. He managed a Player Efficiency Rating of 24 at age 24 (Kobe's career PER, for comparison's sake, is 23.5), all while working with a Blazers team that seemed on the cusp of greatness, behind their three-time All-Star.
The bone-on-bone situation in his knee, sadly, will be too much to overcome. Cartilage protects too much, and a lack of it hinders way, way too much for those attempting to perform at this level. Roy, for all his gifts, will not be able to overcome something he's lacking in centimeters.
To have this happen in Portland, following the star-crossed careers of Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Greg Oden? It seems just as unfair to the fans as it does to the 27-year-old who will have to retire before he even hits his prime.
Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak.com writes...
Washington fans had been floating offshore for decades, just hoping for a ride. You could see Roy coming from way off on the horizon, a big, exciting thing moving inexorably towards us, and greatness.
Then, all the sudden, instead of winning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year he was working on a dock in downtown Seattle. Nothing special.
But his detour gave us all a chance to fall head over heels for the subtle, sophisticated talent with his peculiar inner Seattle accent. Roy is easily the most loved Husky of my lifetime in any sport. He was the kind of player who played almost too selflessly, with an uncommon grace in tight spaces and the most pressurized scenarios.
Mike Acker of Rip City Project writes...
One of my closest friends from college was born and raised in Seattle. He graduated in 2002, and during his time at O'Dea High School the local prep squads included players like Martell Webster, Aaron Brooks, Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Marvin Williams, and of course Brandon Roy.
During our sophomore year of college my friend and I were at his house watching the University of Washington Huskies play on TV. When Brandon checked into the game my friend told me to pay extra close attention. He said of all the guys he'd watched playing high school basketball in Seattle that Brandon was by far the best.
I don't remember much about the specifics of this game, but I do remember that it was immediately obvious that Brandon was the best player on either team. He could do whatever he wanted on the court, he could score at will, and best of all he did it in a slow style that never looked rushed or out of control.
Alex of SeattleSportsNet.com writes...
His No. 3 jersey was retired by the University of Washington on January 22, 2009, not three years after he had played his last game as a Husky. He was only the second player to have his jersey retired by the program, joining Bob Houbregs in receiving the honor.
He was arguably the greatest basketball player in UW history. He became a fan favorite in Portland, where he played the entirety of his pro career. He was respected by rival fans as often as he was hometown fans.
He may not receive another playing contract. He may not earn more endorsement deals, or be on television, or shoot baskets in front of tens of thousands of people any longer. But what he does have, one cannot put a price on.
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop.com writes...
It's no wonder the Blazers topped John Hollinger and Chad Ford's inaugural Future Power Rankings, which debuted that year. This was the team, when it came to potential.
And it was Roy's team. He was the best player and the vocal leader, oozing cool confidence. He was also the reason the Blazers had one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Roy would put the ball on the floor and -- at his own chosen speed, and with endless herky jerky movements -- either find a shot for himself at the rim, from the mid-range, or he'd draw a double-team and kick the ball to his endless array of sweet-shooting teammates splayed our along the perimeter. Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake were just some of the players who had career shooting years by firing it up after Roy kicked it out.
And Roy himself had a ridiculous ability to get the job done. It's rare a player finds a layup against a set defense like this. It's also rare a player hits a shot like this double-teamed, turnaround, fall-away, buzzer-beating overtime 3 to beat the Rockets.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com writes...
First, obviously, there is the sadness. As most of you know, I spend a lot of time in the Rose City and saw quite a bit of the Blazers, so I feel an extra twinge of anguish at seeing such a good player being cut down in his prime. Roy was one of the league's 10 best players in 2008-09 and 2009-10, and the Blazers were the league's team of the future. It's easy to forget this now, but Oklahoma City executives were actually pointing to Portland as their model, saying they were a year behind where the Blazers were.
More than a player, Roy was also a swell guy and, when it came to dealing with the media, one of the league's most accessible stars. Beyond being really good, he was an easy player to root for, especially in a Portland community that had mostly experienced the opposite in the preceding seasons. His arrival signaled a rebirth for the franchise from the messy end to the "Jail Blazer" era, built around likeable players and deft drafting.
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes...
Brandon Roy slipped into retirement far too quietly for someone whose impact can never be measured. Blame timing, as the season was starting in the post-lockout rush and CP3 and Howard trade speculation ruled the day. Roy had a lead role in rebuilding the trust of an entire franchise in one of the best NBA cities around just as the Jail Blazers had done the impossible and turned Portland off to pro basketball. He is the rare player who crosses the line from star to truly making a difference in a city.
John McGrath of TheNewsTribune.com writes...
Brandon Roy, it turns out, played in fewer NBA games than Jerome James. Roy's ruined knees limited the former Washington standout to 321 games over five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, curtailing a potential Hall-of-Fame career. James, the overweight, underachieving center who parlayed a solid playoff series with the Sonics into a $120 million contract with the Knicks, appeared in 358 games over nine seasons. Roy personified every virtue of an admirable athlete. He was talented and humble and gutsy and consistently able to exude the sheer joy of competing. If Brandon Roy had been born in the body of Jerome James, the world would've enjoyed the greatest basketball player ever created.
Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post writes...
But with the exception of the size of his bank account and his general celebrity, nothing about Roy had changed. To the people who knew him as a skinny high school kid, he was still affectionately, just Brandon. When he came back home to Seattle for the offseason, he organized charity games around the city and at his high school.
For someone who thrilled fans and teammates going as far back as that tiny St. Joe's gym in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, it was only fair that they were able to give him a similar thrill before he had to prematurely hang up his high tops. He will be greatly missed at the the the Rose Garden, but his rise to stardom will continue to be an inspiration.
Steve Lee of Northwest Sports Beat writes...
Just as Daniel LaRusso did twenty five years earlier, Roy made an incredible comeback during the playoffs after what should have been a season ending knee injury.
Eight days after surgery on his right meniscus, Roy return to once again down the Suns in Game 4 of their first round series.
Although he scored only ten points in twenty seven minutes, Roy's emotional presence sent chills throughout the Rose Garden and into the homes of all Portland fans.
Although they would go on to lose the series 4-2, Roy proved that he didn't need to score in order to be a threat for the Blazers.
Here's an excellent retirement tribute video from Brandon Mitchell of PinwheelEmpire.com.
Here's Dave's eulogy to the Roy era.
Here's my look back at watching and listening to the development of Roy's Blazers career.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter