A Roy-al Performance
Brandon Roy’s NBA future was bleak in January of 2011. The former rookie of the year and sixth overall pick by the Blazers in 2006 was facing double knee surgery on two knees that doctors considered to be shot. The 26 year old shooting guard has knees that resemble a 50 year old ex-NFL running back. There is no cartilage left, and after the surgery doctors told the Blazers Roy had 1-2 years left with limited minutes.
Roy expressed his discontent with coming off the bench but knew he had no choice. The great ones have a hard time accepting a lesser role well past their primes, yet Roy was just entering his prime. Roy had known for a long time his knees were failing him, but the January surgery confirmed his worst fears.
Roy again tweaked his knee in April and had a procedure that was supposed to keep him out of at least the first round of the playoffs. Roy was in uniform for game 1 of Portland’s first round series against Dallas. In game one, Roy was an unexceptional 1-7 in 26 minutes off the bench.
Game two may have been a personal low in Roy’s career. The former face of the franchise was kept on the bench when the game was still in doubt in the fourth quarter. Roy expressed his frustration with reporters and had to hide his face in a towel to conceal the tears streaming from his face. Little did we know what Roy had in store for us in front of the home crowd.
After facing adversity in game two, Roy did what great ones do and responded in game three. The series shifted to Portland and Roy contributed with 16 points off the bench in the Blazers 97-92 victory. Roy’s game three performance still pales in comparison to what he did in game four.
Portland trailed Dallas by 18 points at the start of the fourth quarter. Roy either scored or assisted on 14 of the Blazers’ final 17 made field goals and accounted for 33 of the team’s final 43 points. Roy outscored the Mavericks 18-15 in one of the greatest fourth quarter performances in NBA history. After Jason Kidd’s three clanked harmlessly off the backboard the comeback was complete, and somehow the Blazers tied the series with an improbable 84-82 victory.
Portland may go quietly into the night, and there are bound to be other virtuoso performances over the years that make us forget about Roy’s fourth quarter. Those fans in attendance and watching on television will never forget what Brandon Roy did for his team that Saturday in April. In a time when it is so easy to be cynical about professional sports and athletes, Roy reminded us why we watch. Sports have always been high drama and the greatest reality show on the planet.
‘Carpe diem’ has become a popular phrase, and literally translated it means seize the day in latin. In game four Brandon Roy summoned every ounce of talent and dogged determination to seize the day for the Blazers. Roy is painfully aware that his window of greatness is limited, but no matter how much longer he plays no one can take away what he did against Dallas. Not bad for a guy with two shot knees.