It was a weekend of goodness. Furious finishes, filthy performances and sensational superstars. The opening round of the NBA playoffs has featured the best in the game doing exactly what they do best — let’s just forget about the Knicks and that oft-frustrating Atlanta/Orlando series for the time being, okay? — and it has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Watching Brandon Roy lead his team to victory against the Dallas Mavericks in front of a packed Rose Garden crowd was poetic justice by way of poetry in motion. As Roy drove to the hoop and drilled jumper after jumper, everyone could see why he believed he was still the same player he’d been before knife met knee. That player — Roy the All-Star — is still there, but after a season of strife, is often hidden.
On Saturday afternoon, Roy the All-Star found a way to show the basketball world that he is still kicking. Dropping 18 points in the fourth quarter and leading his team back from 23 down, Roy reminded everyone that his story is not over by writing one of the most beautiful narratives I’ve ever seen.
After finishing off the Mavericks and tying the series at 2-2, Roy found himself feeling a familiar emotion as the final buzzer sounded. There were tears ready to fall, only this time they were joyous ones and this time, he wasn’t alone. Basketball fans all over were captivated by the moment, the story, the magic that they had just witnessed.
From being written off as a has-been to being chastised for believing he could do more, in a span of days Roy answered all of his critics, but far more importantly than that, he wiped away any doubt that may have been lingering in his own mind. Injuries are a funny thing. They often stay with the athlete long after the body heals. They cause pain and confusion and can cause people to look at you differently, to question your mental toughness or ability to properly assess your own ability post-return.
While that moment was about Roy and the shine was deservedly and undeniably on him, it’s important to look at the love and support he received from his teammates. When Roy spoke out of turn resulting in people saying he had put himself before the team, it was something that happened out of frustration and pain. It wasn’t an intentionally selfish act. Roy’s teammates knew this, even if the people on the outside didn’t.
As Roy went “Brandon Roy” on the court, Andre Miller went into cheerleader mode on the sideline. Nate McMillan wore a look of pride near center court and his teammates looked toward him, completely confident in him and his game. As the buzzer sounded and tears threatened to spill, the entire Blazers squad flew onto the floor to embrace their teammate, captain and superstar and to celebrate his moment with him.
If ever we needed a reminder that it’s often the intention that matters more than the misstep, we can look at these Blazers understanding Roy’s pain when he spoke out to media members in Dallas. Understanding it wasn’t an act of selfishness, but one of soul-searching.
During a postgame interview that was hard to hear because of a raucously screaming Rose Garden crowd, an emotional Roy said there were times during the season where he didn’t know if he’d ever play basketball again. Imagine the weight he had silently been carrying on his shoulders. Imagine the relief as that weight lessened with each point scored in that glorious fourth quarter. Enjoy the smiles and celebration of the Blazers because that was a moment that will go down in NBA playoff history.
It’s also the moment where Brandon Roy reminded us all of exactly who he is. Brandon Roy is a warrior.