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On Brandon Roy and the loss of control

Dec 12, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

“I don’t think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.” -Arthur Golden.

My wife’s biggest problem with being pregnant has nothing to do with the nausea. She’s not bothered by her increasing lack of balance, nor the fact that she now craves fried food as if she was the one raised in rural Arkansas and not me. She doesn’t even mind being unable to drink. Okay, that’s a lie. The booze is a bummer. But the biggest issue with being knocked up is the lack of control. Her body is reacting to something which she has no control over, and while they can be considered consequences in many ways of various decisions she’s made, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s hungry but not because she hasn’t eaten, tired but not because she hasn’t slept, and irritated but not (just) because I’ve done something stupid. The body is the one that’s in control, and that can be pretty frustrating.

In this discussion, Brandon Roy’s tired of feeling pregnant.

Roy has broken a bit out of his recent slump, and he’s attributing it to reaching his limit with his limits. Let’s let the Oregonian explain:

“I’m not that kind of player,” said Roy, 26. “Maybe when Im older, but right now, Im fine, so I just want to play.”

The deterioration of Roys game — he has openly limped and grimaced through games lately — has been widely chronicled and debated, both internally by Blazers management and by fans on message boards and radio waves. But Roy said he has neither listened, nor worried, what others have to say or think. This was his body, his game, and only he would decide how the next chapter was written.

“There was no one moment. It just built up, and I finally said there are two ways to go: You can keep it up or do something about it. So I just decided to do something about it.”

via Portland 101, Phoenix 94: Brandon Roy scores 26 as Blazers win streak grows to four games | OregonLive.com.

Roy’s taken the gloves off. The minute limitations, the self-concerns, the awareness that he’s working with no brake pads on his knees, with no meniscus and that he’s not who he once was. He’s just trying to be who he once was. Or some other version of himself that doesn’t need that explosiveness, who can just shoot jumpers. It’s fearless. It’s bold. It’s heroic.

It’s sad.

Sad because at the end of this, Roy doesn’t get to go back to rollerskating and wine spritzers like my wife does (rollerskating and wine spritzers meaning explosive dunks and long minutes to Roy, and she neither rollerskates nor drinks wine spritzers, but that’s neither here nor there). At the end of this, Roy still won’t have meniscus tissue in his knees, will still hurt when he plays basketball, and will still have to wonder why it is that his body revolted in such a cruel and disappointing way.

But true to form, Brandon Roy is going down swinging.

There’s no alternative, really. To admit defeat is to go down a road of failure and self-restraint which, to be honest, is all too common in our society and is sometimes called for, but is also not heroic. And athletes, though they are almost never heroic anymore, still need that heroic mindset. They need to be able to push themselves beyond limits in order to succeed at their jobs, to really succeed.

And we’ll keep hoping that Roy is able to get to that next level, even if his comments bring concern that perhaps the cost is too great on him personally. To push himself as he’s proposing to is to invite severe injury. Things tearing, breaking, keeping him out for long stretches and worst of all, bringing even more pain. But that’s something that may happen anyway, something he can’t control. And this way at least it happens on his terms. He’s in control of his body, even if he’s destroying it in small doses.

You have to wonder if the cost isn’t too great sometimes.

Then you remember the millions of dollars and the fact that everyone loves him and it’s cool.

Kind of.

  1. downtowndanny - Dec 12, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    dam, that sucks , what a talented player….who eventually be relegated to coming off the bench full time

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