The Portland Trail Blazers had a grueling stretch from 2000-2006 where they were known as the “Jail Blazers”. Comprised of cocky characters like Zach Randolph, Bonzi Wells, Rasheed Wallace, and Shawn Kemp among others, the team was headed down a dark road where egos clashed and the team concept was missing entirely.
However, the savvy draft day trade to acquire Brandon Roy for Randy Foye seemed to eradicate what only a year before seemed like would be a decade submerged in darkness for the Blazers’ franchise. Roy quickly quelched their quest for a quintessential superstar by filling the role immediately.
His feel for the game and pristine personality made him look like a perfect fit for the NBA’s next face of the game. Obtaining the majestic moniker “The Natural” for seeming like the NBA’s version of Bernard Malamud’s literary baseball folk hero Roy Hobbs, Roy gave fans a superstar of their own.
Roy posted the numbers and possessed the ability to close out game with a defiant dagger without the ego and poor persona.
Recently, murmurs of his return have mushroomed across cyberspace and have fans feeling a dichotomous opposing split between their heart and mind.
All it takes is one clip of Roy’s clutch time magic to get you emotionally invested in his game and have you cheering for him every time he dribbles down the court. This part of us as fans is puling for him to make a triumphant return to the court, in hopes that we’d see more of those joyous moments created by him.
However, intellectually the reality is jarring and much more sobering than we’d like to realize. With his career embattled by injuries (both knees bone on bone, with no cartilage left in them) it’s hard to imagine his body being able to deal with the rigors of today’s more athletic and uptempo game.
Roy’s return to form against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 playoffs in one monumental game had us smiling and cringing, showing us a player reminiscent of who he was in his prime, and forcing us to realize that it was unlikely we’d ever see that player again in the future.
His short stint in the NBA gives us a window into the game’s evolution from the NBA of yesteryear to how the game is currently played. He struck a balance between precocious fundamentals and clutch sharpshooting that made him popular among fans of all ages.
Whether Roy makes a return to the court or not, he played an important role in NBA history and gave the game and its fans a career, that in its short time, was so pure and marvelous that it has us lamenting its abrupt ending.