Roy gets second shot at stardom

Brandon Roy was a star in the NBA three years ago, being easily regarded as one of the top shooting guards in the game, slotted in behind Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.

Roy’s spotlight would dim as injury woes began and terrible knee problems resulted in a degenerative knee condition. He needed double-knee surgeries in 12 months, which led to an early retirement 15 months ago with the Portland Trail Blazers.

To the delight of the basketball world, Roy signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves this off-season. His comeback has officially begun and the first step on his path back to his previously experienced stardom has been taken.

Roy recently played in a Pro-Am game in Atlanta, along with Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford, and scored 32 points in his first competitive game in months.

Wade, of Miami Heat fame, witnessed the action and said that, “Roy looked good man, real good. He was getting to his spots on the floor, using his muscle and getting into the paint, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. He looked the old B-Roy man, I’m excited for him.”

If those encouraging words from the recently crowned champion weren’t enough, remember too that premier defensive player Ron Artest stated in an interview that Roy was, “the best player I ever played against,” and repeated it when asked if he was better than Kobe.

The path to stardom began for Roy after playing his college ball at the University of Washington for four years, declaring for the 2006 NBA Draft after a stellar senior year in which he led Washington in all major offensive categories. He was selected with the sixth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves, then traded on draft day to the Trail Blazers, an under-the-radar move that was regarded as one of the smarter moves the front office has made in recent memory.

Roy got off to a quick start with the Trail Blazers, scoring 20 points in his first career game against the Seattle Supersonics (who have since moved to Oklahoma City and become the Thunder). He immediately put himself on the map, later that year he would score 29 against the Golden State Warriors, a then career-high. Roy would go on to win the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year award.

The foundation was set for Roy and the up-and-coming Trail Blazers. Their star was developing, their back-to-the-basket player Lamarcus Aldridge was coming along (who has now developed into an All-Star calibre player, still with the Blazers) and their role players were all filling out very nicely. For Roy and the Blazers, the future looked very bright.

He became a sensation, putting up numbers like he was an NBA veteran. He crashed to the basket and possessed a lethal step-back jumper and it put him in the conversation for being a Western Conference All-Star that coming February. He was voted to start the game in just his sophomore year and it catapulted him to have a terrific second half.

The Blazers didn’t do too well that year, finishing with a 41-41 record and a 10th place seed in the Western Conference. But compared to what would befall Roy in the coming years, it was the best thing to happen yet.

Portland competed for the playoffs the next two seasons, with Roy being selected to his second and third all-star games, playing like the star he truly was. Before the start of the 2008-2009 season, Roy had minor knee surgery that kept him immobile for six weeks. However, he rehabbed enough to make the start of the season but his conditioning was in question.

In spite of the disbelief, Roy had a fantastic year. He hit three memorable buzzer beaters against the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, tallying a career-high 52 points on that night too. He had a career year, but the Blazers fizzled out in the playoffs. However, every Portland fan was excited for the start of the new season. Blazer nation felt something special happening.

Next year happened more or less the same way: excellent play leading to a successful team. Except suddenly, during the closing weeks of the season, Roy tore his meniscus and needed knee surgery immediately.

The playoffs began with Roy on the sidelines, but come game four against the Suns, things would be very different. Just eight days after surgery, Roy recovered and put on a show in the fourth quarter and led the Blazers to a win. They would go on to lose the series, but there was yet again belief in a deep playoff run next year.

Roy’s knee problems finally started to catch up with him in December 2010, he was out for nine games because of a lack of cartilage. Then in a sudden turnaround, Portland announced that Roy would be out for the rest of the year due to, “his degenerative knee condition continuing to get worse.”

Roy returned towards the end of the year in a bench role, not getting the minutes until he was fully game ready. Despite his lack of playing time, Roy miraculously brought the Blazers back from a 22-point deficit in the playoffs.

In game four against the Dallas Mavericks, Roy scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to bring his team back from the dead. He hit a game-winning floater off the glass with 49 seconds remaining to give them the win, and for a moment in time, we saw the Roy of old.

It was all short lived as Roy announced his retirement due to his knee problems before the start of last season. He has been out for 15 months, working out, trying to get better, trying to get healthier and make a comeback.

So now, fans must wait. They wait for the start of the preseason and for Roy’s resurgence. Although Portland doesn’t have their star back, their fans and the rest of the basketball world are pulling for Roy. Everybody wants to see him succeed, and if or when he does, everyone will see one of the best get back to prominence and possibly lead a resurgence in Minnesota.