We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2012-13 went and what we see for them going forward. One player a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and rolling up to the starters.
The Brandon Roy experiment.
It failed, right? Of course, it failed. He played five out of the 82 games and in those five games he struggled mightily. The only part of his game that was still there was his passing game. In fact, he showed the best passing rates of his career with 6.8 assists per 36 minutes and an assist percentage of 28.8% in the short amount of time he spent on the court.
I’ve tried to look at his time with the Wolves and glean as many positives as I can from it. It’s an overused cliché but he was a warrior of sorts out there. It doesn’t make him the same as a gladiator from long ago or any soldier that has ever fought in a battle or war. We’re using warrior in a much different sense here. Brandon Roy was a warrior because he fought. He fought against his body. He fought against what was expected of him, which was next to nothing. He fought against what modern science was trying to whisper into his psyche.
But he fought. There’s something admirable about that, even if it’s futile to try to do. It was potentially reckless. It was selfish. It was something that may never be worth it in our minds. Perhaps it was worth it to him though. It’s highly unlikely he’ll ever get another shot in the NBA. Why would any team invest money in a guy that couldn’t even stay active enough (65 games) to get the second year of his contract guaranteed? His career is likely over, which means the lasting memory we’ll have of him is his inability to get on the court for one more go round. It won’t be that magical fourth quarter he had in the 2011 playoffs for the Blazers in which he reminded us one more time how deadly he once was. It will be him in a suit, sitting on the bench.
I got to talk to Roy a little bit throughout this season, but not much after his surgery. What I took away from him was a respect for the game, a desperation to feel what it was like to be a productive player again. I doubt he attempted his comeback due to money. The Blazers are still paying him a Brinks truck full of money from his previously amnestied contract. It looked like he was trying this for pride — foolish pride but pride nonetheless. What he wanted was selfish. He wanted gratification. He wanted to feel some glory again. But it’s something we should all understand and appreciate on some level.
Roy was a competitor that couldn’t come to grips with ending his playing career before his 30th birthday. He wasn’t a talentless player that had to hang it up; he was just betrayed by his knees and never allowed to consistently be great or even healthy enough to move anymore.
If there’s anything his Wolves’ teammates can take away from Brandon Roy’s year with the team, it should be a reminder that hard work and talent are rarely enough. Everybody works hard to get to the NBA. Everybody in the NBA has talent. Sometimes, it takes the luck of your body holding up through the wear and tear of everything that got you to the league and keeps you in the league. It should be a reminder that the time they have to play in the NBA could be a lot shorter than they expect, and with that they should want to work even harder to accomplish their goals. For some players, those goals are securing a big contract that gives themselves and generations of their families and friends financial freedom. For some players, it’s to be the best in order to accumulate personal accolades to show how great they are. For others, it’s to compete as hard as they can so they can help their teammates reach a goal of winning a title and ending up in a very special area of the NBA record books.
Regardless of the reasons, whether they are selfish or selfless, the time in the NBA for a lot of players is shorter than they realize. It can be taken from you with one bad fall or one bad genetic coding. There should be more of a desperation to accomplish your goals by believing in your abilities, working hard to maximize them, and let the coaches direct you on how to realize those goals. If Brandon Roy’s situation was able to remind the Wolves of this reality, then the Roy experiment was a success.
It wasn’t a success for him, unless just knowing he could get back on the court once was enough to satiate his hunger to be in the NBA again. It wasn’t a success for the 2012-13 Wolves because he never helped them get to the playoffs, which needs to be the goal for every season from here on out. But maybe there is a subconscious long-term recognition of the realities of the NBA that has begun to manifest in the members of his teammates this past season that will help them in the future.
Perhaps it was both a success and a failure at the same time, but regardless I wish him the best. It was a hell of a career.