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The Inbounds: Nervosa Brandon Roy

Aug 3, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

Brandon Roy AP

Welcome to The Inbounds, touching on a big idea of the day. It could be news, it could be history, it could be a tangent, it could be love. OK, it’s probably not love. Enjoy.

For many, Brandon Roy‘s return to the NBA is a joyous occasion, a celebration of a man getting to do the thing he was put on earth to do (or one of them, anyway). For others, it’s a sad moment as the Blazers go on without him, the promise of his time there turned into nothing more than dead money and YouTube clips while Roy jogs up and down the floor in Minnesota blue.

But for some like myself, Roy’s return is marked by one expression of humanity more than any other.

Fear.

I’m afraid for Brandon Roy. I’m afraid for the Timberwolves, and Blazers fans, and NBA fans, and doctors and lawyers and chiefs, but mostly, I’m afraid for Brandon Roy. Because I never, ever want to see him go through the misery of losing it all again.

I’ll never be as good at anything as Brandon Roy is at basketball. Not Super Smash Bros. which I am dominant at, nor grilling taco meat, another specialty. Certainly not writing, I think the standard of evidence is pretty clear in that regard. I’ve never done anything as well as Brandon Roy is at basketball, and certainly not as well as he once played the sport. And when you’re that good at it, when you’ve worked so hard to reach that point and all the fame and money that comes along with it, it starts to define you. And when Roy lost it, bit by bit, surgery by surgery, game by game, and head shake by head shake, you could see him losing a part of himself.

It was a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking scene that played out over the course of two years. The worst moment? The worst moment was that Mavericks playoff game. He came off the bench, full of fire and having gone through an emotional torrent both for himself and upon his team and coach, and cooked the Mavericks into a highlight reel. It was one of the most amazing playoff experience of the past ten years, and anyone in the building for that moment knows what it meant and how it felt.

And then it was over.

That’s what makes it the worst moment, because it fed so much hope. So many Blazers fans started to believe, saying “you never know” and spitting out the “heart of a champion” line. And that was good then, but overall, it was awful, because losing that is losing something you’ve given yourself to, it’s letting go of the ghost.

When I was 19, I fell for this girl in college, and I mean fell in that serious condition. It was getting to the point of no return where you’re drifting further from casually dating to “we have to figure out what this means” territory, which is a big deal when your biggest daily concern is that Psych 1 final or where you lost your beer bong. And after one particularly successful, incredible date, I stopped her in the parking lot mid-sentence and told her we should never see each other again. She asked me why. And I told her because if it ended now, nothing can take it away, it can’t end badly, and we’d both be able to hold on to how good it was at that particular moment.

She slapped me on the back of my head, said “No” and we went on.

That relationship did not end well.

I share this bit of nauseating collegiate drama with you to share this: I have the same fear for Brandon Roy. I want Brandon Roy to go away and never play basketball again, and that has nothing to do with how I feel about Roy’s explosive scoring game (I love it), nor the Minnesota Timberwolves (how much fun are they going to be?) nor the Portland Trail Blazers (it was time for them to grow up and move on).  I say it for the same reason I don’t want my son to grow up, because then he’ll experience disappointment, betrayal, and hurt.  Now, Roy’s a big kid and he knows what he’s doing. In all likelihood the worst thing that happens here is he simply plays out a few more years as a shell of himself, contributes to a few teams and leaves a mark as the veteran who showed flashes of the old magic.

But there’s that part of me that’s terrified of having to watch him go through losing the game again, to watch his fans have to see him deteriorate and break through no fault of his own again, to see Portland fans watching the hopes born in that 2008 team torn up in front of their eyes even though the team no longer exists.

I’m scared for Brandon Roy because this game gives joy and purpose to him and to millions of people who love watching him play, and yet fate has continually decided to drag him into an alley and beat him up for his lunch money and meniscus.

But we get over that fear, and we hope for the best, because the payout is that dagger three-pointer, that loop to the rim for the layup, that cold-blooded step-back. I’m not going to pretend that the odds are with Roy, they’re not. Nor am I going to pretend that his overcoming the injuries to succeed would represent a great human triumph. It wouldn’t.

But there’s a chance that he’ll get to play basketball again, make himself and millions of people happy (and himself and a handful of other people very rich), and at the end of the day, that’s worth the risk.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here biting my nails.

  1. phillyphil005 - Aug 3, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Sounds like a cowardly take to me.

    You were scared, so you asked to break it off? Lol!

    The difference between guys like you, and guys like Roy…besides the god given ability to ball, is that he isn’t a coward, and would rather experience pain, failure, or heartache instead of giving up or taking the cowardly way out of it.

    Once again, quite the pathetic take on a situation that should be applauded for courage and toughness, instead of reacting with fear and cowardess.

  2. lastdukestreetking - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    This is the “big idea” of the day? I fear for the small ones.

  3. observingii - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Chickendookie!

  4. greej1938l - Aug 3, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    I’d destroy you in supersmash!! Ha ha

  5. paleihe - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    I enjoyed reading the article, even though I don’t agree with it.

    I loved watching that Mavs game, it was incredible. I had chills during the post game interview. Couldn’t have been more happy for him.

    Matt: In regards to your son getting older…he’ll also get to experience love, success, passion, hear people laugh, dance to great music, and basically see the world for all its beauty, along with all its flaws. That’s part of living the human experience. Allow him to, and be grateful that he can, experience everything life has to offer.

  6. charlutes - Aug 3, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Once again I am tricked into reading an article by Matt, only to realize half way through that I am lost in a directionless dictionary of this man’s thought process. What year is it?

  7. latchbeam - Aug 3, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Good article… good luck to Roy!!

  8. censoredpost - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I for one can’t stand sappy-ness or musicals but I hear what your saying. I fear he goes down in a crumpled heap and I never get his screams and writhing out of my brain. Like a bad episode of faces of death or the Napoleon McCallum universal knee joint.

  9. juanandonly24 - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Matt, I’d wreck you in Smash. Good article, though.

  10. itsonlyaspeedbump - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Matt, you right. You are not nearly as good at writing as Roy is at basketball.

    But you’re still pretty good at it.

    Nice article.

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