PORTLAND, Ore. (BVM) – What if? That’s the question that has surrounded the careers of many professional athletes over the years, but perhaps none more so than Brandon Roy.
After a total of seven knee surgeries during his basketball life, Roy was forced to retire from the NBA at the height of his career. However, he still gave Trail Blazers fans some thrilling moments while in the league. Since his days in the NBA, he has continued to impress on the hardwood back home in a different role.
Brandon Roy’s early life, college career
Roy got his start in basketball while growing up in Seattle, playing on the AAU circuit and later starring at Garfield High School. There, he became a four-star recruit, and could have pursued the NBA right out of high school.
However, Roy decided to play college basketball in his home state with the University of Washington. After seeing limited playing time as a freshman, Roy started all 31 games for the Huskies in his sophomore season, averaging 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. In his junior season in 2004-05, Roy averaged 12.8 points per game playing alongside fellow stars from Seattle including Nate Robinson and Martell Webster.
As Robinson and Webster bolted for the NBA, Roy remained for his final season at Washington in 2005-06. As a senior, the guard fully broke out, averaging 20.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals. Roy was named a consensus first-team All-American and the Pac-10 Player of the Year as he led the Huskies to their second-consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. The guard concluded his Washington career with 1,477 points
Brandon Roy’s NBA career
Following his performance as a senior at Washington, Roy’s stock rose significantly, and he was selected No. 6 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2006 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard was then part of a draft day trade that sent him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Villanova guard Randy Foye.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) August 28, 2014
Fittingly, Roy’s first NBA game was against his hometown Seattle Supersonics as he scored 20 points in his pro debut. It would be one of many special performances throughout Roy’s rookie season, as he averaged 16.8 points while shooting over 45% from the field, earning NBA Rookie of the Year honors. However, the shooting guard did play just 57 games, missing multiple contests with an impingement in his knee.
Roy got even better in his second year in the league, improving his scoring average to 19.1 points while also dishing out a career-high 5.8 assists per game. Following a string of three-straight losing seasons, Roy helped the Blazers finish 41-41 as he earned his first All-Star nomination despite battling an ankle injury throughout the second half of the year.
After missing most of the following preseason as he had a procedure done to remove cartilage from his knee, Roy helped Portland to a 54-28 record and a playoff appearance in 2008-09, playing alongside another budding star in LaMarcus Aldridge. While the Blazers would ultimately lose their postseason series to the Rockets, one of Roy’s most iconic moments of his career came against Houston earlier that season when he drained an overtime buzzer-beater with 0.8 seconds remaining.
This buzzer-beater from Brandon Roy 12 years ago will always be legendary 😤 pic.twitter.com/q7FvgnJT8U
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 6, 2020
Roy averaged a career-high 22.6 points per game in 2008-09, along with 5.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He became the first Blazers player to be named All-NBA in almost two decades.
Again an All-NBA player and All-Star in 2009-10, Roy averaged 21.5 points while leading Portland back to the postseason. However, his fourth season in the league is when injuries really began setting in, as he dealt with a hamstring injury throughout the middle of the season, and later suffered a bone contusion and slight meniscus tear in his right knee in April. While Roy was expected to potentially miss the rest of the season, he heroically returned in the Blazers’ first-round playoff series against the Suns.
Unfortunately, the 2010-11 season would begin the downfall of Roy’s NBA career. In December, Roy was ruled out indefinitely due to issues in both of his knees. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in both knees in January, and returned to the floor at the end of February, but wasn’t quite the same player.
That showed in the postseason as the Blazers took on the Mavericks in the first round until Roy brought about playoff heroics once again, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4 and rallying his team from a 23-point deficit to even the playoff series at two games apiece.
However, this would be one of the final legendary moments of Roy’s basketball career. Following the 2011 NBA lockout, Roy announced that his knees had degenerated due to a lack of cartilage, and that he was retiring from basketball.
After a year away, Roy attempted a comeback with the team that originally drafted him, the Minnesota Timberwolves, in 2012. Unfortunately, Roy re-injured his knee early in his stint with Minnesota, and played in just five games for the T-Wolves before undergoing season-ending knee surgery.
Playing just six seasons in the league, “what if” defines Roy’s NBA career. He averaged 18.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists during his time as a pro, proving to be an electrifying playmaker who had a truly clutch gene.
HBD Brandon Roy!
1st Season: Rookie Of The Year
3rd: All-NBA 2nd
4th: All-NBA 3rd
“Roy has no weaknesses in his game. I told him I don’t know of any player outside of myself that has no weaknesses besides him." – Kobe pic.twitter.com/XAI2Dq5Mez
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 23, 2022
Brandon Roy’s personal life, net worth and achievements
Roy currently resides in Seattle and has four kids: Brandon Jr., Mariah, Brayden and Michael. The former NBA All-Star got married to his high school sweetheart, Tiana Bardwell, in 2010, but the couple has since divorced. Roy is now married to his wife, Angel, whom he had Michael with.
In 2009, Roy had his No. 3 retired by the Washington Huskies, and also has his No. 4 hanging in the rafters back at Garfield High School. In 2018, he was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame.
Brandon Roy’s post-playing career
As anyone could imagine, Roy had a tough time in the years following his retirement, missing the game and questioning why it was taken away from him so early.
While Roy’s time playing on the court certainly was taken away from him too soon, he found a way to continue his passion for basketball through coaching. In 2016, Roy became the head coach of the boys basketball team at Nathan Hale High School back in Seattle. In his first season, Roy was named the Naismith National High School Coach of the Year after leading the Raiders to a perfect 29-0 season where they won both state and national championships. Nathan Hale was led by current Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who averaged 36 points and 13 rebounds that season.
"I hope I coach long enough to where people don't remember me as a player."
Brandon Roy on his new career as a high school 🏀 coach. pic.twitter.com/tMEub1eM6r
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 22, 2017
Following that 2016-17 season, Roy was named the new boys basketball head coach back at his alma mater, Garfield. In his first season with the Bulldogs, the former Blazers star was just as successful, winning a state title as his team went 28-1.
Roy stepped away from Garfield for personal reasons and to spend more time with family in 2018-19, but returned the following season to once again lead the Bulldogs to a state championship victory.
Impressively, Roy won his first 51 games as a high school coach, and won three state championships in three seasons of coaching. The former NBA All-Star again took a leave of absence from Garfield in December 2021, holding an impressive 82-6 record as a high school coach at the time.
What could have been for Brandon Roy
Also having one knee operation each during high school and in college, Roy had a ridiculous seven knee surgeries during the entirety of his basketball career. By the end, the lack of cartilage between the bones in his knees caused too much pain which forced his retirement.
However, had he stayed healthy, Roy seemed poised to become one of the NBA’s best to ever play. The late legend Kobe Bryant gave the former Blazers guard perhaps the ultimate praise with a quote he gave on a radio show during the peak of Roy’s NBA career.
“He’s the most difficult player to guard, 365 days a year, 7 days a week,” Bryant said. “Roy has no weakness in his game.”
Had Blazers’ 2007 No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden also not had injury problems that derailed his career, Portland could have featured a true big three for several years with Roy, Aldridge and Oden.
If Roy was healthy, the Blazers may have gone a different direction in the 2012 NBA Draft. However, the team selected All-Star guard Damian Lillard sixth overall that year. A pairing of Lillard and even a semi-healthy Roy could have also been a lethal duo in Portland, and may have made them more legitimate contenders throughout the rest of the past decade.
We’ll never know exactly what Roy’s career could have held or what Portland could have become had he been healthy. However, he did give Blazers fans thrilling moments throughout his short time in Rip City. He also has found success in basketball once again following his playing career, and is sure to do the same no matter what the next chapter of his life has in store.