Several glasses of eggnog, Chinese take-out, and Brandon Roy dropping 41 against a stacked Nuggets team. For a Jew in Portland on Christmas, it really doesn’t get much better.
It was 2009 and the Nuggets were in town to cap off a five-game NBA showcase on ESPN. Stellar performances all-around the league—Kobe Bryant scoring 35, Dwyane Wade putting up 30—but Roy’s 41 earned Top Performer’s status by night’s end.
Watching from my living room, excitement bubbled as Roy nailed his first three shots without the stain of orange iron. Nothing but net. The first: a zero-hesitation three-pointer off of a LaMarcus Aldridge screen. The second: a twenty-footer over Aaron Aflalo from the elbow. The third: a drive and step-back from the free-throw line.
Roy would go on to make 16-of-26 from the field (plus three of six from behind the arc), net six-for-six at the line, all the while adding a steal, four assists, and six rebounds while committing just two turnovers. Merry Christmas indeed.
But these numbers (save the 26 shot attempts, “Stay Humble”!) were well within the range of normal for Roy; a career 19/4/5 guy night in and night out. The stats are impressive, sure. But it’s the way he could entice a fan who just sat through 10 hours of basketball to get comfortable on the edge of her seat with only seven minutes gone by in the first quarter that makes Roy one of the best Blazers to wear the uniform.
After a day of full of indulgence in every capacity, he had Blazer fans begging for more.
Over the past five seasons I’ve had the pleasure of turning on the game, tuning out Mike & Mike, and inching back towards the edge of my seat. Time and again Roy had me nodding in giddy agreement with the right play, the clutch shot, and the anticipation of what he might do next. This remarkable consistency was rivaled only by the calm of a true professional.
For that incredible performance on Christmas two years ago, and for the 320 other games where I found myself standing four feet away from my TV ready to yell and alarm the neighbors to my activity: Thank you Brandon. Thank you for carrying this team and this city on two shot knees and guts alone.