DALLAS – Brandon Roy has gone from the All-Star anchor of a playoff team in Portland to the X-factor, off the bench, for that same team.
Roy is also in the middle of a simmering controversy between Trail Blazers fans, some who want him out of the way and others who have a hard time seeing the one-time face of the franchise cast aside while his career is in the midst of being ravaged by knee injuries.
As Oregonian columnist John Canzano points out, Roy, who gets much more respect from opposing coaches, players and fans than he does from the folks back in Portland, doesn’t deserve their scorn:
“If Roy died right now the Blazers would be better off. I’m starting to think that’s what it might take to get him out of here.” – Mike, Salem
Before practice, I asked Roy if he hears the criticism from Blazers fans, who email me and flood online comment boards. Nevermind the scoreless first half by two starters in Game 1. Nevermind the free-throw disparity. Nevermind that Portland held Dallas without a field goal for 11 beautiful minutes with the three-time All-Star on the court in the second half.
The loss is Roy’s fault, right?
“I heard a guy at the Rose Garden the other night, yelling that I needed to get off the floor,” Roy said. “I heard it. It hurt. I noticed it, not going to lie. I’m struggling to fit in. But it bothers me more than anyone when I feel like I’m out of rhythm.
“I’m doing my best.”
Roy’s had multiple knee surgeries. Both knees. His struggles aren’t physical now, though. He says, “I’m trying to figure out when I’m supposed to take a shot, and when I’m supposed to distribute. I want to be aggressive, but I don’t want to be out of character.
“I’ve gone from being the first option to being a fourth option. If this was easy, I would have already figured it out.”
“Brandon is just taking up space out there.” – Chris, Portland
The Mavericks are not interested in any of this chatter about Roy being a non-factor. They know better. They’ve seen enough of Roy over the years to know that even in his diminished state that he cannot be ignored when he’s on the floor.
Roy’s teammates witnessed that firsthand in Game 1, when Roy shot just 1-for-7 from the floor and had three assists in 26 minutes, and expect more of the same tonight in Game 2 at American Airlines Arena.
“If he wasn’t good, teams wouldn’t double and trap him,” LaMarcus Aldridge said. “They want the ball out of his hands. The criticism from fans? That’s just the world we live in, I guess.”
When asked if Roy was someone they needed to worry about, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle seemed insulted by the line of questioning.
“You don’t underestimate greatness,” he said.