On April 23rd, 2011, a miracle happened. Brandon Roy, bone-on-bone knees and all, was the Brandon Roy of old. The Roy that performed astonishing buzzer beaters and amazing layup switcheros came alive.
Earlier that day, the I had made my way to the Rose Garden to see the Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The first and second quarters were exciting yet disappointing; the teams were tied at halftime. Going into the third quarter, everyone in the arena was antsy. This was when the Blazers decided to instigate one of their famous "We can't hit the broad side of a blimp hanger bay" moments. 10 and a half minutes passed before anyone hit a field goal. It was one of the most depressing sights of my life. I watched as the deficit went from 5 points, to 10 points, to 15 points, until the Blazers were down 23 big ones. Then Brandon Roy, with 4:46 left in the quarter, was subbed in. I was staring around the arena, looking for people I knew, or anything to pass the time, when I noticed that there was a change. The deficit was shrinking. 19 points down. "Ok," I said to myself, "If they cut it to fifteen, I'll pay attention." That they did, and I began to watch again. Before I knew it, it was the 4th. I remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if they could cut it to 10?" Bam, 75-66 on a Roy jump shot. He was unstoppable. Anytime anyone left him open, he'd sink it. Layup after layup, shot after shot... The crowd was on its feet. Dallas calls time, 2:31 left. Roy, dribbles down the floor, gets it poked away, picks it back up. I'm thinking to myself, "C'mon, take it to the hole!" Roy does the opposite; he puts it up from range. Swish: Marion fouls him, he drains the three, sinks his free throws, all of the sudden it's tied! The crowd is roaring, Andre Miller is freaking out, and Dallas calls another time out. Roy's got 22 points, off the bench. The crowning acheivement, though, was not the three. It was the shot off the glass, the pull up jumper down the lane, giving the Blazers the lead, that sealed the deal. Jason Terry hucks a shot at the end: off the back of the rim. There was a scream as it went up, and a roar as it died away. After the game, anyone wearing a Roy jersey was high-fived, hugged, or given a roaring cheer: myself included. I was in 7th grade at the time. It was one of the best days of my life.
Final score: Blazers 84, Dallas 82. Brandon Roy, 24 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists. That says nothing about what that game really showed us. It showed us that Brandon will always care for this down, and he will lay it all on the line for us. That's what makes a great player: not the rings, or the stats, or anything else. Just the fact that he cares. He cares about all of us, and sometimes we take it for granted. But this town will never forget the legacy of Brandon Roy.
Portland lost that series, 4-2. I didn't care. I never will. That one game, that one moment of pure, utter joy for all of us, that is what will matter to me. It always has, and it always will.