One of the last (and best) memories that Brandon Roy left for the Portland Trail Blazers franchise was his Herculean Game 4 performance in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks. While the gist is known to many, the minute details could only be told by someone close to the whole thing. And as part of a roundtable for The Athletic on the best game their writers have ever covered, The Athletic’s Jason Quick (subscription to The Athletic required) went at length on Roy’s magical night.
Quick starts with his value of the game in retrospect:
For me, in 20 years of covering the Trail Blazers, that game stands above the rest, but not necessarily because of what happened on the court.
That April night will likely stand as the greatest game I ever covered because of what happened in the days leading up to that game, and then in retrospect, what that game later became in the heartbreaking legacy of Roy.
Four days before that memorable performance, Roy sat on the bench during Game 2 and had to hold back tears from humiliation and frustration.
Then, Quick tells of finding an emotional Roy following that Game 2, which he had prepared vigorously for and hoped to play more of a role in:
After the game, Roy showered and dressed quickly and was the first to leave the locker room. I was on my way to the staging area where the postgame press conferences were held when I spotted Roy walking alone down a hallway toward the team bus. I called to him and he reluctantly stopped, then leaned against a concrete wall. His eyes were misty, and when I asked him where his mind was, his answers were choked with emotion.
Eventually, The Game takes center focus, and Quick shares what it meant to him personally to be there watching Roy, a player whom he grew very close to professionally:
At the time, sitting up on press row, I remember having goosebumps during the rousing comeback. And because of my feelings for him, and because I knew how emotional that week had been for Roy, I remember avoiding eye contact with my colleagues because I didn’t want them to see my misty eyes.
Now, looking back, I realize that deep down, Roy probably could feel his career was slipping away from him. I think that’s why everything hit him so hard. The Game 2 humiliation. The emotional response of the fans. The ride home with pop. He said as much in that TNT interview.
So while Game 4 will always be remembered for the comeback, to me it stands as a poignant goodbye.
There are many more insightful and beautiful things said about Roy and that game in Quick’s piece, which you should read if you can (subscription to The Athletic required).