Sometimes a player exits the NBA on terms that in no way reflect his talent. As reported by Yahoo!'s own Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves are formalizing the release of shooting guard Brandon Roy, effectively ending his career. After signing with Minnesota in the summer of 2012, Roy showed little ability to play with his seriously damaged knees and managed just five games for 122 total minutes. It stands to reason that Roy will decide not to pursue another contract, and even if he did it's hard to know if any team would be interested in his services.
This is a sad moment for many reasons. Roy established himself as a star with the Portland Trail Blazers pretty much immediately upon his arrival in 2006, serving as the most dependable member of what many thought would be a championship-winning core of him, Greg Oden, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Oden's injury history is well-trod ground, but it's important to remember that Roy really was the player he was supposed to be — or better, even — for most of his first four seasons. He made three All-Star teams, won the Rookie of the Year award in 2006-07, and made two All-NBA Teams (second team in 2009, third team in 2010).
Focusing heavily on his "what if?" scenario neglects what was. Basketball fans didn't get all they wanted from Roy, but he accomplished a great deal before his knees broke down completely. We'll always be able to look back on the highlight mix at the top of this post, his last-gasp dominance of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks for one game of the 2011 playoffs, or more personal memories of special plays. Roy's career is only a depressing tale if we choose to ignore what made his relatively brief time as a star so special in the first place.