FanPost

Brandon Roy was the Billy Ray Bates of the 2000s


As a fan, I cheered Roy like everyone else. I wanted him to lead us to the promised land. I wanted to believe the Trailblazers hype machine when they and the Oregonian championed him as the sixth greatest Trailblazer in history. I watched stunned by his sublime performance in game 4 of the Dallas series in 2011.

I've always been bothered by the hype of Brandon Roy, however. The argument for it goes something like this: he saved us from the jailblazers; he graced us with spectacular play unknown in blazerland, except for the rare cases of Clyde and Bill; and, had he been healthy, he would of lead Portland (with Oden and LMA) to the WCF and beyond. A point of view summed up by Magnum in comments to Dave's provocative post, Have Portland Trailblazer Fans Forgotten What Greatness Looks Like?

Peak level Roy was absolutely the kind of player to lead a championship team

22/5/5 on 48%/37%/82% with a 24.0 PER

It’s just that Roy only had 3 elite seasons. Plenty of top players needed years before they could get over a playoff hump.

The hype was alive and well during his tenure. As with most fans, I sublimated my misgivings about his supposed greatness in the hope that he would accomplish all we hoped and more. Alas, true greatness is rare. And fans forget what it looks like and how our love of the team shape our expectations and evaluations.

Compare the NBA playoff stats of Brandon Roy and Billy Ray Bates:

Brandon Roy

Playoffs Per Game

Glossary · SHARE · Embed · CSV · PRE · LINK · ?

Season Age Tm Lg Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2008-09 24 POR NBA SG 6 6 39.7 9.3 20.3 .459 1.3 2.8 .471 6.7 7.7 .870 1.0 3.8 4.8 2.8 1.3 1.2 2.2 2.5 26.7
2009-10 25 POR NBA SG 3 1 27.7 3.3 11.0 .303 0.7 4.0 .167 2.3 3.0 .778 0.7 1.7 2.3 1.7 0.0 0.0 1.0 2.3 9.7
2010-11 26 POR NBA SG 6 0 23.0 3.7 7.3 .500 0.7 2.3 .286 1.3 2.2 .615 0.3 1.8 2.2 2.8 0.2 0.0 0.7 2.2 9.3
Career NBA 15 7 30.6 5.9 13.3 .442 0.9 2.9 .326 3.7 4.5 .809 0.7 2.6 3.3 2.6 0.6 0.5 1.3 2.3 16.3

Billy Ray Bates

Playoffs Per Game

Glossary · SHARE · Embed · CSV · PRE · LINK · ?

Season Age Tm Lg Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
1979-80 23 POR NBA SG 3 34.7 10.3 19.7 .525 0.7 2.3 .286 3.7 4.7 .786 0.7 2.7 3.3 4.0 1.7 0.3 5.0 4.3 25.0
1980-81 24 POR NBA SG 3 38.3 11.7 20.7 .565 0.3 0.3 1.000 4.7 5.7 .824 1.0 1.3 2.3 4.3 1.7 0.3 3.7 3.7 28.3
Career NBA 6 36.5 11.0 20.2 .545 0.5 1.3 .375 4.2 5.2 .806 0.8 2.0 2.8 4.2 1.7 0.3 4.3 4.0

26.7

Billy Ray Bates was clearly statistically superior. And fans in the late 1970s-early 1980s were as passionate if not more than in in the late 2000s. We all hoped Bates would lead us to the promised land. I saw both play in person. They were both spectacular offensive players. But neither could dominate both sides of the court, like Bill or Clyde could.


People will argue that had Roy had good knees, the skies were the limit. But we can easily make the same argument for Bates, except from a sociological, rather than physiological perspective. According to Wikipedia:


Bates was born the eighth of nine children of Frank and Ellen Bates. He grew up picking cotton, string beans and corn as the son of Mississippi sharecroppers. His father died when he was seven but figures he took the genes of his 6-foot-6 250-pound father, a massive yet quiet man who loved his liquor and went on drunken walks through the Mississippi backwoods. He says he took his first swig of Schlitz Malt Liquor beer at age 10. He remembers it gave him a headache for two days, but he also remembers he liked the taste and how it made him feel happy. He was also drinking moonshine by age fourteen. At sixteen, he had tried cigarettes and marijuana but didn't like how they made him cough.

Brandon Roy didn't grow up in the best of circumstances either, and he had clinically-recognized learning difficulties. But he grew up in Seattle and attended the University of Washington. To me the difference is obvious and enormous. Seattle is one if not the most educated cities in the USA. He attended Garfield High School, which specializes in extremely gifted students as well as kids from the neighborhood. He got plenty of help at the UW, too. One wonders if Bates had grown up in San Diego, like Walton, and attended UCLA under John Wooden, perhaps he would be recognized as one of greatest players of all time. Instead, he crashed and burned. He ended up in prison in 1998 for armed robbery.


I'll be honest: part of what bugs me about Roy's supposed greatness was his focus on his knees. Sure we felt badly for him. And I cringed every time he set foot on the court in every come back attempt. (At my age, I know how much he'll pay for ruining the meniscus in his knees for his shot at greatness.) I also know he made serious bank as we all waited anxiously for his return. How about Bates? Do people even know what he meant to us after Walton had left (with leg problems, coincidentally) and all seemed hopeless in Portlandville in 1980?


X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker