Column: Roy embraces change while moving toward the top
Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy mentioned the big names.
Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Garnett.
Towering, larger-than-life figures whose impressive accomplishments are only eclipsed by their worldwide recognition and appeal.
But as Roy discussed each player, he did not lust after their fame or drawing power. And he did not refer to scoring titles, entourages or commercial endorsements.
Instead, Roy spoke with reverence about what they had each sacrificed to take their game — and their team — to the top.
“What’s the common thing with all of them? They all won it with good teams,” Roy said. “Kobe couldn’t do it with just Kobe. KG couldn’t do it when he was in Minnesota; he got with a good team and he won it.”
Then Roy moved on to the King, who, despite ruling the NBA world, still lacks a crown and a ring to go with his throne.
“LeBron went to the championships when he was 22, and he hasn’t been back since,” Roy said. “Even I thought: ‘He’s going to be there every year.’ But it doesn’t happen. It’s just not that easy. That’s why that championship is so special.”
Roy’s understanding of what it takes for a team and its star player to reach the promised land is what makes him so special.
Contrary to recent media-inflated reports that Roy’s ego and need for the ball are on the rise, the franchise representative for all things black and red has been, if anything, willing to downsize and downplay his star role for the greater good this season.
Need Roy to hold down the Blazers’ small forward position for a few games, while coach Nate McMillan experiments and attempts to add new life to his team by inserting point guards Andre Miller and Steve Blake into the starting lineup?
Need Roy to play the part of a proven, wise veteran, without the normal benefits such as increased minutes, points or touches.
How about standing tall in the locker room or at the team’s practice facility following a loss, answering every question thrown his way with honest, thoughtful answers that he knows will be analyzed and dissected for truth and clues the second they leave his mouth.
Again, no problem.
Roy has done everything asked of him and more this season. And while doing so, he’s quietly kept his sight set on the sole object that really matters: An NBA championship.
As fans, critics and the media have shown off a few sharp, early-season teeth and chomped away at lightweight, instant-dissolve drama, the 25-year-old Roy has manned up and held strong.
“Any adversity I go through this early in my career is good for my career,” Roy said.
He’s also continued to put up all-star caliber numbers, highlighted by team highs in key categories such as average points (20.8), made free throws (6.3) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0).
Roy has sacrificed, challenged himself and searched for answers. All in the hope that change and struggle will eventually bring him and his team closer to their ultimate goal.
“That’s what I want everybody to do, is just give things a chance,” Roy said.
A week ago, the Blazers’ early-season blues had many of their followers singing a sad song.
Now, Portland has won four straight games. The team is sitting on a hard-to-argue-with 6-3 record, tied with the Denver Nuggets for the Northwest Division lead. And a little change hasn’t been such a bad thing.
All the while, Roy has stayed Roy. And he’s kept the big names in mind. Remembering the trials they had to endure and overcome. And what it must have felt like when they were finally set free.
“They’ve been through this,” Roy said. “And I haven’t gone through it yet. So hopefully this is the step that I’m able to take to become one of those top guys in the league.”