Brandon Roy should not have spoken with reporters about being upset with his lack of playing time after the Blazers Game 2 loss in Dallas. We can all agree on that, right?
Here’s the thing, though. Reading the tweets and comments ripping Roy just didn’t sit right with me. Of course he’s going to get criticized for thinking about himself and his own situation rather than the team’s, but can we stop for a moment and think about the things going through his head right now?
I’m a writer. If I woke up one morning and struggled to piece together even the most basic of sentences, I’d be lost. Entirely, completely, absolutely lost. I’d also be angry, frustrated and likely unbearable for the people closest to me, at least on the bad days. Self-pity isn’t ever a good look, but it’s a real one. Sometimes we succumb. In those weak moments when who we are is challenged by things outside of our control, we sometimes say and do things we shouldn’t.
Brandon Roy is a basketball player. It’s what he’s always been, it’s what he has worked for his entire life. It’s why he’s been the guy for his team and it’s the reason he’s getting paid $13.6 million this season. For him to not be able to be the guy he feels his team needs him to be, to not be able to do the things he’s always done, it’s got to be so tough.
Tough enough for him to give in to self-pity, even momentarily, after a disappointing loss in a series where his team is now down 0-2 in a series against the Mavs? Yes, apparently.
I know that we want to tell Roy he hasn’t been great in his minutes on the floor, that he isn’t the guy he once was, or thought he was, but that’s the hardest thing for an athlete to hear. Besides not wanting to listen, when an athlete publicly admits that they’re not who they want to be, they become a step closer to not being able to get back to where they were. That ego, they need it. Sometimes, at all costs. Sometimes that ego is what makes an athlete able to overcome the stumbles and the roadblocks. It’s a belief in himself that likely got him through the days of working on the Seattle docks with the dream of being an NBA superstar in the back of his mind.
Separating yourself from your team, coaches and organization is never a good thing. Shifting the focus onto yourself is bad at any time, but during the playoffs? Unacceptable. I’m guessing Roy understands this. It’s sort of an unspoken rule.
Just as that’s an unspoken rule, an often unspoken truth is that athletes are vulnerable when they can’t will their bodies to do what they want. Not superhero — nor superstar — tough. Vulnerable. It’s easy for us to hit Twitter and Facebook and go Kanye with our caps lock button shouting “BE BETTER THAN THAT” when we’re not the ones who have been stripped of that which has made us who we’ve spent our entire lives becoming.
This shit is tough.
It’s sad. It’s upsetting. Watching Roy on the basketball floor not looking like himself, then watching him on the bench, struggling with a body that, whether he likes it or not, isn’t allowing him to do what he wants to do, what he feels his team needs him to do, it sucks. It’s been a long season of rest and rehab, of strained play and new situations for Roy.
Being the last man off of the bench? Seems unfathomable when you think of the player he was, only a couple of seasons ago. It’s something he’s going to have to embrace with grace and humility and it’s going to have to happen soon, even if he’s hurting inside.
While we hold him accountable for stepping out of line or speaking out of turn by exposing his true feelings and emotions to the media, let’s also remember this is a guy who only wants to help his team. Even if he isn’t ready to accept, or perhaps is still unable to understand, that his helping might come from the sidelines as much as it used to come from the floor.
I don’t think Roy had any ill intentions when he went into his postgame ramble. I think he had a heavy heart and a busy mind and clouded judgment and he needed to vent. What matters now is how he deals with it.
It’s time to accept accountability. Time to tell his coach that he trusts him to do the job he’s paid to do and time for Roy to be the best damn leader he knows how to be, regardless of whether the number in the minutes played column goes up or down.
Let’s remember he’s human. And humans, we make mistakes. Lots of them, Especially when we’re hurting. Even when we make lots of money and play a game for a living. Even when we’re supposed to be better, supposed to be used to the cameras, supposed to know it’s about more than us and that the game is bigger than us. It happens. What happens next might be the biggest power play of Roy’s playoffs and the ball is in his court.
It was such a short time ago that we believed in Roy so much. If we can’t fully believe and trust that he’ll work his way back to form, maybe we can give him the benefit of the doubt in the aftermath of a loose-lipped scrum at the absolute worst time of the year and believe he’ll work to make up for his mistake.