Wow...what a performance by Brandon Roy!
Look...you can say Roy only got the opportunity because of Kobe Bryant's absence and that's exactly true. If Bryant is healthy Brandon gets 12 minutes and a pat on the head no matter how well he's playing. That's what name value does. But that doesn't obscure the fact that Brandon took advantage of that opportunity. He ended up with more minutes than anyone on the West squad and tied for most points. That's a sign of respect not just from the coaches but his peers. Don't miss this. If they guys you're playing with don't respect you, you get two shots and a lot of running practice. They have to support you in order for you to get touches. Brandon was near the heart of things in this game--maybe not exactly in the middle but way closer than his two years in this league would naturally warrant. He is a legitimate player in this league in more than just the obvious sense of the word. Notch another amazing accomplishment in the annals of a player who has already had a bunch of them.
This game also proved something that we've known for a long time: if you don't "D"-up on Brandon you are in big trouble. Want to know the difference he makes...how he makes people better? That's half of it right there. Teams don't like a guy scoring 18 points on 10 field goal attempts in 28 minutes. That's a major headache. Every guy out there has half an eye on him, knowing what he's capable of. That creates any number of small cracks for the other guys on the team. Once we're used to exploiting those cracks this is going to be a serious problem for opponents night in and night out.
Ahhhhh...great talent, fantastic personality, team leader, and now a legitimate All-Star--able to stand with some of the best in the game today without hanging his head. (Again, in his SECOND YEAR in the league!) Is there anything this guy can't do? I wouldn't bet on it.
Thanks, Brandon. Amazing job. You did us proud.