Someone recently told me that a deep, long, sigh is the release of intense emotion. I’ve been sighing all day, and I know I’m not alone. In a span of roughly 14 hours, the Portland Trail Blazers have gone from having a glimmer of hope in this league to a team that’s literally dead in the water amid the news that Brandon Roy will attempt to medically retire.
Forget the steps involved for the team in this process, the cap space, the money, or what it feels like to be a fan of this team right now. Before everything else, I have to acknowledge how hard this has to be for Roy. To see his career, his life’s work, end, like this, due to a body that has failed him even as his indomitable spirit remains, has to make this a dark time for him. My heart goes out to him, even though I know he will be okay, I still hurt for him.
For the Blazers and this fan base, the news this morning was like a shock wave. I can tell you, this day started like any other: waking up, making breakfast and taking Quentin, my son, to school- one of Brandon Roy’s biggest fans (wears a number 7 on all his jerseys, if he can, and gets the #7 cut into his hair almost every time). I don’t know that I even have words for the feeling I had when I returned home and read the news on twitter, it all just hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew Roy’s knee issues would change his career forever. After last season, how could anyone still think he could have been what he was three years ago? But to see that he’s decided to retire? Wow.
The emotions hit me hard and fast, reading through tweets, stories, sources, and finally, hearing it confirmed by ESPN, brought me to tears. I was literally breathless, what is happening to my team, this town, we don’t deserve this, my mind screamed. And all the while I was staring in the face the sad realization that not only are our own, lovable, once -so-promising Big 3 no more, this team that was once full of hope and redemption, is no more. We’re starting over. And around who, no one knows.
There have been so many friends of mine texting, calling, wishing me well. “I hope you’re okay, Sophia,” one direct message said. “You’re so awesome for continuing to update us all even though I know you’re so sad. HUGS,” said another message. But this isn’t about me, even though I’m upset, this is about Roy, a guy that has unfairly had to end a career that was so promising. This is about a team that changed its reputation over night by naming a new star, a new franchise player, the unassuming, humble, quiet leader in Brandon Roy. It set a precedence, I think, looking back at it now. For more and more we see teams looking for a leader like Brandon — unselfish, humble, not necessarily the most vocal on court, but unfailing willing to lead in all other aspects. This is about a city full of good people love this team in such a unique way. And this is about the loss of a dream — Roy thought he would win a Championship here, and so did Rip City.
In the end, I go to sleep feeling less sad tonight because I am grateful Roy get’s to make this decision on his own terms. There’s something powerful about that, and totally Roy-esque, too. His courage in accepting what most athletes in this league cannot- that his body really, literally, cannot take one more season- just speaks many more volumes about Brandon’s character.