Brandon Roy, who spent five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, provided many memorable moments for fans, from leading comebacks to nailing shots at the buzzer. His tenure, however, was cut short when he was released using the amnesty provision in December 2011. There's been much debate among fans whether or not Roy's No. 7 should be retired in the Moda Center rafters. Below, a Blazer's Edge panel offers their thoughts.
Dane Carbaugh: Let's avoid the opportunity for complete recency bias and look at this statistically. Between Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler, Larry Steele, Dave Twardzik and Lionel Hollins, Brandon Roy holds his own among Portland guards with retired numbers. He is second or first in per-game averages among that list in points, turnovers, rebounds, three-point percentage, win shares per-48 and offensive efficiency rating. The same can be said for several playoff statistics. Comparatively, he was one of the greatest Blazers guards of all time.
The issue here is length. Roy's total career was only six seasons, and even then, only in part. He played fewer games, scored fewer points and played fewer minutes than Bill Walton did in four seasons at Memorial Coliseum. He didn't win a championship, which gives the abbreviated nature of Walton and Hollins' career significantly more weight. Even Arvydas Sabonis played more games as a Blazer than Roy. And, objectively, his contemporary in LaMarcus Aldridge has already surpassed him in on-court performance.
If the idea is to remember those who have led a team to greatness, then Roy doesn't qualify. I think that's a bit serious, especially within the context of this organization. For Portland, Roy was the turning point for a franchise, a chapter that can never be skipped as it moves forward without him. So what are we to do in this situation?
After contemplating for some time on whether to retire Roy's jersey, I have a more modest proposal: Wear it.
Scratching off No. 7 from the list of available jerseys is a temporary move, one that won't matter to kids in Irvington in 20 years time who have long forgotten the Seattle native. Portland should instead assign the No. 7 to a player they feel best exemplifies their team, who represents that spirit of Roy's complete game and his meaning to the city. Logistics on this could be tricky, what with drafts, trades and personal preference, but the idea seems a better remembrance than any alternative. In time, the No. 7 could be a way for fans in Portland to carry on Brandon Roy's flame, rather than see it extinguished and put behind a glass case at One Center Court.
Timmay!: Ask me again in 10 years.
Even though the Blazers are a little notorious for over-retiring Jerseys (hello, Lloyd Neal, Larry Steele and Dave Twardzik!), I can see the case here. Brandon only played 5 seasons in Portland, but even more, he only played two seasons of 70 games or more. That's not typically "retire your jersey" territory, unless you somehow won a title in that stretch (hello, Bill Walton!).
But of course, this isn't any normal player, this is Brandon Roy. The guy who helped revive the franchise and give the fans hope after a horrible era. The player who hit The (original) Shot against the Houston Rockets, who scored 52 on national TV against the Suns, who shut down both Joe Johnson and Carmelo Anthony with the game on the line, and who led the Blazers to a 23-point comeback victory against the Mavs... on one knee. Which led to this picture.
But this is all the more reason to let some time pass, to give us perspective about Brandon Roy as a Blazer. He only played a few games in Minnesota, so that will typically fade from public memory. In time, we'll see if we identify No. 7 with Brandon Roy, considering other players who have worn it, like Kenny Anderson, Dan Dickau, Wesley Person, Charles Smith and Brian Shaw. It's not like No. 7 is so synonymous with Brandon Roy that it caused a Blazer to change his number due partially to the fan response. Oh, wait. Surely it wasn't a problem just in training camp. Ok, maybe it was. Hmm.
Ok, fine, I take it all back. The Blazers should retire No. 7. Face it: It'll forever be Brandon Roy's number anyway, and would just look weird on someone else. "Why is he wearing Brandon's jersey?"
And the ceremony (and accompanied highlight reel) will bring down the house.
Sam Tongue: I'm going to be completely up front on this: even with the injury problems and the fact they never got out of the first round of the playoffs, Brandon Roy is still my favorite Blazer ever. From the Northwest roots to the way he helped change the team's culture to that smile, he was the complete package.
What he represents on that level makes him worthy of having his number retired. Roy was a culture- and momentum-shifting figure within an organization that doesn't necessarily have a ton to count. Statistically LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard will likely pass Roy, but could they have done for the city what Brandon did? I think that's tough to say. In that moment, Roy was what Portland needed, and there's a lot to be said for that.
Let's also be clear: this isn't asking whether to build a statue in his honor. That's a completely different discussion (and one that would be unrealistic to have).
For me, you retire a jersey if someone else wouldn't look right in it (which is why you see the momentum to retire MJ's No. 23 league wide.). For everything he did both on and off the court, Roy deserves to have HIS No. 7 retired.
Chris Lucia: Brandon Roy is one of the most gifted players to ever don a Trail Blazers uniform, a savior to a once-great franchise that had been mired in mediocrity and embarrassed for almost a decade by many of its own players by the time he was drafted in 2006.
From the beginning, Roy was clearly a special player. As the Blazers won more games with a roster of players that could make the community of Portland proud, fans began to return to the Rose Garden in droves as buzz about the young team spread throughout the city. Roy's rookie season, 2006-07, was a 32-win outing that sprang way to a 41-win 2007-08 year. By the time the 2009 playoffs rolled around, Portland was sitting at 54 wins and hope for the future abounded as Roy hit his statistical peak as a Blazer, averaging 22.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game that year as a two-time, 24-year-old All-Star.
Who could forget about the virtually unanimous Rookie of the Year season, the turnaround, 30-foot three-point game-winner against the Rockets and the heroic -- if ultimately unfruitful -- return to game action just eight days after knee surgery going into the 2010 playoffs? Perhaps the most special memory Rip City fans have of Roy, among dozens, is the comeback he spearheaded in Game 4 of the 2011 playoffs against the Mavericks -- which still gives me chills when I think about it.
Ultimately, though, Roy's career gave way to the knee injuries he had struggled with since high school, as the weight of becoming a franchise cornerstone became too heavy for his body to handle after just five seasons of service and at the age of 27, when most players would typically be in the middle of their prime.
If you asked me two years ago if No. 7 should've been retired for the Blazers, I would've almost undoubtedly said yes. When Roy was waived before the 2011-12 season, many Portland fans -- myself included -- felt robbed of seeing another decade of Roy, who had become one of the most special players to ever play for the Blazers while capturing the hearts of fans in fewer than six seasons. The thought of retiring his number seemed like a way, at the time, to honor a man who literally gave his health to a franchise that so desperately needed direction before he came along.
As the years have passed, and as LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have become transcendent talents in their own right, the desire to put Roy's jersey in the rafters has faded slightly. No one can take away the memories he gave Portland fans, and retiring his number -- or not -- won't affect how I feel about him now. Let's give the organization and Roy some time to reconnect, perhaps in a team ambassador-type role, and re-visit the No. 7 jersey retirement debate in another four or five years.
Ben Golliver: Answering this question is exactly why I invented a jersey retirement formula all the way back in 2008. As a refresher, the formula attempts to quantify a player's connection with a franchise, team success while he was with the franchise, statistical output with the franchise, individual achievement with the franchise and the murky intangibles that always come up in these conversations. Each category counts for up to five points, totaling 25 possible points. For what it's worth, Maurice Lucas (25 points) and Clyde Drexler (24 points) scored the highest on this scale.
I would assign Brandon Roy four points for his connection with the Blazers (he began his career in Portland, he played all of his most important years in Portland, he played the majority of his career in Portland, but he did not retire in Portland). I would give Roy two courtesy points for the team's success while he was in Portland (he never won a playoff series, but he did set the table for a new era while providing some memorable postseason moments). I would give Roy four points for his stats (his numbers are pretty comparable to Geoff Petrie's). I would give Roy four points for his individual achievements (Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, which again is similar to Petrie). Finally, I would give Roy four points for the intangibles (fan favorite, a franchise savior, Pacific Northwest connections).
Add up the points and Roy scores 18 on my 25-point scale, which puts him below Lucas, Drexler, Bill Walton, Petrie, and Terry Porter, but above Lionel Hollins, Dave Twardzik, Larry Steele, Lloyd Neal and Bobby Gross. Given that he outpoints so many current jersey retirees, I think Roy is fully deserving of the jersey retirement honor.
I do think eventually Roy will be honored, but the sharp, clean split between player and team suggests that it could be awhile.
Sagar Trika: This is a question that's been argued for years now, and I'm still unsure about where I lie on the matter. I'd like to say his number should be hung in the rafters. While he didn't have a lengthy tenure in Portland, he revived the franchise from the Jail Blazers era almost single-handedly. That in itself is an impressive task. Along with that, he provided many memorable moments, such as the buzzer-beater and comeback mentioned by Chris above.
That being said, the tenure is an issue. He only played 321 games in Portland, and he only played more than 70 games in two seasons (2007-08, 2008-09). Many have argued it takes more than that on a resume to receive the honor of having one's number sent to the rafters.
It is also worth noting that if Roy's jersey is retired, forward LaMarcus Aldridge's No. 12 will have to be sent up as well, given that Aldridge has developed a resume as -- if not more -- impressive than Roy's. Aldridge also has the bonus of making it past the first round of the playoffs, a feat Roy was never able to accomplish.
To sum up: I would wait two to three years before reconsidering retiring No. 7 to the rafters of the Moda Center. Regardless of whether or not his number goes up into the rafters, I think I can speak on behalf of most Blazers fans when I say we will always think of Brandon Roy when we see the number seven.
Do you think No. 7 should head up to the rafters? Vote in the poll and weigh in below.