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Should The Trail Blazers Retire Brandon Roy’s Number?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

 

Brandon Roy, Photo Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Last week’s column urging the Trail Blazers to take down the banners of three retired numbers to make room in the future for more deserving players left open the question of whether one of those honorees one day should be Brandon Roy.

Blazer’s Edge had a good roundtable discussion over the summer about the question of retiring Roy’s  No. 7.

Panelists gave Roy points for how his numbers compare with other Trail Blazers guards historically and crediting him correctly with reversing the team’s “Jail Blazers” image through his personality, willingness to play through injuries and penchant for hitting big shots. They subtracted points for the relative brevity of his career (he turned 30 only this past July) and the fact that his teams never advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Nearly half of the Blazer’s Edge readers said the Trail Blazers should retire Roy’s jersey, with the remainder split between opposing the idea and waiting another three to five years to decide.

Unfortunately, for those of us who believe Roy deserves the franchise’s top honor, here are three reasons it’s unlikely Roy’s number will be retired, followed by why those reasons have less weight than the pregame blimp. 

1. His departure from the Trail Blazers: Roy’s “retirement,” followed by the Trail Blazers’ use of the amnesty clause, followed by Roy’s unretirement to try an ultimately unsuccessful comeback with Minnesota, added up to an awkward end.

But from the “time heals all wounds” department, if the Trail Blazers could forgive and forget Bill Walton’s bridge-burning exacta—both suing the team’s doctor and demanding to leave Portland—because Walton’s  No. 32 deserved to be retired, surely the Trail Blazers can be magnanimous over Roy’s more passive-aggressive parting.   

2. Over-retired numbers: Sadly, the subject of last week’s column—a history in which the Trail Blazers retired the numbers of three players who collectively played 20 years for the Trail Blazers, but never appeared in an All-Star game—now makes the team deservedly gun shy about adding another banner to the crowded rafters. The franchise should shed that reticence for Roy, who played in three All-Star games—tied with LaMarcus Aldridge and Maurice Lucas for third-most All-Star appearance as a Trail Blazers since the team began play in 1970.

3. The passage of time: Ironically, the better the Trail Blazers get (advancing to the second round of the playoffs last year and perhaps further this season), the easier it is to dismiss Roy’s record of never emerging from the first round of the playoffs. And just as ironically, the more accomplishments that Aldridge and Damian Lillard pile up over what’s hoped to be their Trail Blazer careers for years to come, the easier it is to forget Roy’s numbers.

But before that happens, let’s remember that his accomplishments are far superior to those of Larry Steele, Dave Twardzik and Bob Gross, three of the 10 players whose numbers the Trail Blazers have retired. And just as original Trail Blazer Geoff Petrie earned retired-number status as the face of a franchise that had few other reasons to support it during a tough stretch, so should Brandon Roy.

A native Oregonian, Hank Stern had a 24-year career in journalism, working for more than a decade as a reporter with The Associated Press in Oregon, New Jersey and Washington, DC. He worked seven years for The Oregonian as a reporter in east Multnomah County, Washington County and Portland’s City Hall. In 2005, he became Willamette Week’s managing news editor and worked there until 2011.

 

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