Throwback Thursday: Brandon Roy

From his time in Seattle learning about the game and falling in love with it later on, Brandon Roy was destined to become the NBA’s future marquee player. He always had a very high basketball IQ and always made the right plays on the offensive end of the floor. Every time we saw Roy hit the court, he always had the will to win and would give each game his all as if it would be his last. Although his NBA career only lasted for six seasons due to numerous injuries, Roy was able to make a huge impact on the floor and contributed to a very great Blazers team in the late 2000s. Let’s look back at what a phenomenal player Brandon Roy was during his prime years from Seattle, Washington to the NBA hardwood.

Roy was a top prospect in high school playing for the Garfield Bulldogs. Despite his off court issues as far as his learning disability and other factors, his leadership on the floor contributing to his teams’ success was what granted him an offer from the Washington Huskies in 2002. At that time, things were just getting started for Roy and his basketball journey. Although it was a rocky freshmen year for him as he only played 13 games the entire season, Roy continued to put in work and understood that his number would be called when it was the right time for him.

It looked like then Head Coach Lorenzo Romar saw the potential that Roy could be the leader of the team and could possibly take the Huskies deep in the tournament. And once Roy was given the responsibility of carrying the team, he was nothing short of spectacular. He was able to improve his shooting and efficiency leading the Huskies to the Sweet 16 in 2005 and 2006. During his college career, Roy would become the 31st player in Huskies history to score 1,000 plus points and was named PAC-10 player of the year during his senior season. Roy’s dominance on the court was destined to land him a first round pick in the NBA Draft.

Fans and scouts were noticing Roy’s play during his tenure with the Huskies. Many believed he was the one of the most versatile players to come out of the draft in 2006. He was a 6’6 wing player who could create his shot off the dribble alongside being a string rebounder at his position. Roy was  definitely a player no one had seen before during that time.

Although Roy was a gifted shooter at this time following his senior season, he still was not the most standout player to some NBA scouts. Roy was not the fastest or the most athletic, so he wasn’t the biggest name. He also was judged for his defensive habits due to lacking on that side of the floor. Roy had a lot of issues he had to improve on before the NBA, but luckily he was able to get drafted in late June to a classy organization.

Roy was drafted with the 6th pick overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves before eventually being traded to the Portland Trailblazers. With the team having a disappointing 05-06 season with only 21 wins, Roy was a guy that the Blazers saw a bright future in and could possibly take this team to great heights.

Despite what outsiders had to say about the young rookie, Roy had very high expectations during training camp. He was able to fill the role that the Blazers needed as far as a versatile combo-wing-player and also was one of the rookies projected to win rookie of the year after the season. Many could tell that Roy was ready to play at the start of the season and his play to start the year off was impressive.

In Roy’s debut against his home team the Seattle SuperSonics, Roy scores 20 points in a 110-106 victory. It seemed as if the game came very easy for him and he was able to get to his sweet spots around the mid range. It was an impressive performance having a matchup with one of the greatest shooters at the time in Ray Allen. Roy did not back down from the matchup and was able to hold his own that night.

The rest of Roy’s rookie year was very up and down. He managed to play 57 games that season due to an injured heel but still managed to average 16.8 points per game. He would end up being named Rookie of The Year and help the Blazers get an improving record from a season ago.

“To come out here and win this award, I can’t explain how I feel.” Roy said after receiving his award. Roy most definitely set the bar high for himself prior to the season beginning and he was proud of the fact that he was able to exceed expectations. Despite the team having a losing record, he was able to put on a show for the fans in the Rose Garden and show the fans what he would have in store for years to come. It was no doubt that if Roy would stay healthy throughout the course of his career, then he would be destined to be one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

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(2007) Brandon Roy. #ROTY

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After his successful rookie season, Roy’s next couple seasons would flourish as his numbers increased and his impact on the basketball floor would get more recognition. In his sophomore season, Roy averaged 19 points per game and lead the Blazers to a 13 game winning streak at one point in the season. His play throughout the season rewarded him an all-star spot for the Western Conference. Due to Kobe Bryant getting injured early in the game, Roy was able to see significant minutes in the all-star game as he scored 18 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. It was a great showcase for Roy to display his skill and really let the world know that he was an elite player only two years in.

Roy went on to play 74 games the entire season and the Blazers finished the season at 41-41 and just barely missing the playoffs. From rallying a comeback victory against the Atlanta Hawks in January to having his first all-star appearance, Roy was slowly putting the NBA on notice. There is a guarantee that if he would have stayed healthy the entire season that the Blazers would be playoff bound and would have given any team a run for their money in a seven game series.

Roy was great but many could see that injuries were a main problem for him so early in his career. From having a heel injury his rookie year to an ankle injury the year after, both Roy and the Blazers medical staff were concerned whether his health would be a huge issue for you wing-man. Roy was filled with talent and could potentially become the NBA’s next big thing, but the main priority that he needed to do was to stay healthy and prepare for each matchup.

Prior to the 2008-2009 season, health wasn’t getting any better for Roy’s side. Doctors found a cartilage in Roy’s knee that kept him sidelined for most of the preseason. Luckily he was able to be ready by the start of the regular season and suit up his team against the Lakers that night. Despite an early injury, Roy continued to play out of his mind and was helping the Blazers finally become a playoff team. On December 18, 2008, Roy scored a career high 52 points against the Phoenix Suns in a 124-119 win. The Blazers were on fire throughout the season and Roy was the reason behind it. The Blazers had an exceptional record of 54-28 thanks to Roy averaging 22.6 points per game and having heroic moments throughout the season to get wins night in and night out.

As Roy’s first playoff appearance came around, the Blazers were faced with a Tracy McGrady-less Houston Rockets. Despite not having their star player for the postseason, the Rockets were not a team to deny as they were lead by a dominant Yao Ming alongside role players in Ron Artest, Aaron Brooks, and Shane Battier. After Houston embarrassed Portland on their home floor in Game 1, Roy and the Blazers came back more assertive for Game 2 as he tallied 42 points to even the series at 1-1 headed into Houston. The Blazers showed signs of life after an impressive Game 2 performance, but the Rockets used their experience and depth to outlast the young Blazers later on in the series as they eliminated Portland in the first round in 6 games. It was a bitter loss for the team, but Portland was going in the right direction as far as where they wanted to be and that was to be a championship contender in the Western Conference.

With a playoff experience under his belt, Roy was destined to go into the next season stronger than ever. That summer he continued to get stronger and worked on his individual craft to put himself in the perfect position to be a top notch player in the NBA going into year four. With being the franchise player of the team, Roy understood that if the Blazers were gonna get far in the playoffs, it would be up to him to be dedicated to improve himself and the rest of the team would follow.

Prior to the 2009-10 NBA season, Roy would sign a four year max contract to stay in Portland til at least 2013. It was a sign that he was dedicated to taking Portland to another level and the fans were very appreciative of that once he signed the contract. For Roy, the first part of the 09-10 season was spectacular. For the most part, he looked healthier than ever and the Blazers were winning behind his success. However, by the end of December, the injury bug struck again as Roy injured his hamstring and would end up missing 14 games through a stretch of January and February. The same injury was what also kept Roy from playing in the All-Star game as well and he would end up watching the West play from the sidelines. Roy would eventually return to the court on February 16 against the Clippers at home and after that he seemed to have not have the same rhythm that he had at the beginning of the season. His game would be up and down as he played inconsistent night in and night out after returning to the court. It wasn’t until April 11, 2010 when Roy suffered a right knee contusion which would eventually turn into a torn meniscus.

It was a terrible situation to happen for Roy right before the playoffs began for the Blazers. He would end up missing the first three playoff games the Blazers played against Phoenix until prematurely returning to the floor in Game 4 with his team after under-going surgery. Roy would score 10 points that game to help his team tie the series at 2-2 but the Suns would prevail with great performances by Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash winning the series in six games forcing Portland to exit the playoffs in the first round once again.

“It just wasn’t our year, I guess.” Roy stated in his exit interview after the Blazers first round exit. Despite all of the injuries Roy suffered through, he still managed to average 21.5 points per game and 4.7 assists while the Blazers would improve to a 50-32 record on the season. Although he was sidelined for a brief time with his injuries, he was still happy that the team stepped up when he needed them most and were able to produce on the floor leading to team success.

There was no question that Roy wanted to have a redemption season from the past year. His injuries really kept him from being the player that we all knew him to be through the course of 82 games. So at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, Roy would once again get off to a hot start as he wanted to prove to the world that he was still an elite player. But as December rolled around, things began to get shaky once again. Roy’s knees would bother him once again and the Blazers would go on to announce that he would be out indefinitely due to these circumstances. This forced Portland to play through another key player on their team in LaMarcus Aldridge and make him the leader of the team while Roy was sidelined. Roy would go on to have surgery on his knee once again in January. He would then return to the floor on February 23 against the Lakers and would play limited minutes through the rest of the season.

After the season was over, Roy had career lows all across the boards. He would average 12.2 points on the season and would only play a total of 47 games for the season. It was tough for the 26 year old player around this time and it was starting to look closer to the end of Roy’s career than the start. The Blazers would win 48 games during this season, only 2 wins shy from a season ago and would make the playoffs facing the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

Roy would rarely see any light of day on the basketball court through the first two games of the playoffs. And it seemed like Dallas was ready to take Portland out early in the first round and get a good rest before having to play in the Conference Semifinals. In Game 4, Dallas got to a blistering hot start at the start of the second half, leaving the Blazers behind in the dust. After a brief time out, Coach Nate McMillan would look to his former star to provide offense to start a comeback for the team. And Roy did not disappoint. He began cooking in the 3rd quarter and in the 4th quarter he would go on to score 18 points and would bring the Blazers back to an 84-82 victory to the tie the series at 2-2. It was an emotional break out quarter for Roy as he was struggling badly through the course of the season and at the start of the playoffs.

“After everything I been through this year, I didn’t know if I would play basketball again” Roy said after the victory. This Game 4 victory seemed to give Roy much hope that there was still a chance that he could go back to the elite amount of talent that he once was in the past. But unfortunately, Roy would struggle once again through the next two games as the Blazers were eliminated for the third consecutive year in six games.

Before the start of the 2011-2012 season, the NBA Lockout came into effect and the season would end up getting pushed back for the first couple months. Through the summer, Roy’s knees tended to be worse than it ever was. His knees would degenerate and he would lack cartilage between both of his knees. There were no other surgeries that could help Roy’s knees around this time as Roy’s surgeon stated that Roy had only 1-2 years left playing basketball. Roy would later go on to announce his retirement from the NBA and Portland would use their amnesty clause against Roy for cap space.

During his retirement, Roy would work with a plasma procedure that Kobe Bryant used to help with his knees. After months of rehabbing and seeing much progress, Roy would go on to announce his comeback to the NBA in the summer of 2012. He would then have several workouts with teams like Dallas, Chicago, Golden State, and others.

Roy would then go on to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, pairing Roy with All-Star Kevin Love. After a strong training camp for the veteran, Roy would suffer another injury after colliding with another player during a preseason game. The injury didn’t seem to be very serious as Roy would make his season debut against the Sacramento Kings scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists. The Timberwolves would go on to win the game 92-80 and Roy was fitting right in with his new role in Minnesota.

Roy would go on to play four more games for the Wolves before suffering through knee injuries once again which forced him to have season ending surgery. He averaged 5.8 points through 5 games being the starting shooting guard for Minnesota. After the 2012-2013 season, it would be the end of Brandon Roy as everyone knew him to be as he walked away from the game once again.

Although injuries made a huge impact of what the world could have known Brandon Roy to be, he always gave the game everything he had and always put on a show for the home crowd. His game was at a different level and he had a huge amount of talent that no one had never seen before. NBA players as in Kobe Bryant and others have raved about Roy’s offensive talent and always understood that it was a hard task keeping Roy from scoring on a nightly basis. It’s great to see Roy finally coming to terms with his retirement and starting a new chapter in coaching High School basketball in this modern day. It seems like no matter where he goes, the game will always be close to the Seattle native.

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