It was knee trouble that moved several teams to pass on Brandon Roy in the 2006 draft, until the Portland Trail Blazers swung a trade to acquire him with the sixth pick in 2006. It was knee trouble that limited his minutes in the years following, that put him on the shelf for months at a time, and that led us to cheer for the star-in-waiting as a martyr-on-court as he seemed to overcome the trouble in a thrilling performance during last spring's playoffs.
It's knee trouble, we're told, that is going to end the 27-year-old's career sooner rather than later. ESPN's Chris Broussard first reported the news, and Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski offered these details on Friday morning:
Portland's Brandon Roy has been diagnosed with a "career-ending (knee) injury," league source confirms to Y! Sports. "He's done."
And it's so incredibly sad.
Just two years ago, Roy was nipping on Kobe Bryant's heels. His per-game numbers were limited due to Portland's league-slowest pace, but when you accounted for that pace his accomplishments were substantial. He managed a Player Efficiency Rating of 24 at age 24 (Kobe's career PER, for comparison's sake, is 23.5), all while working with a Blazers team that seemed on the cusp of greatness, behind their three-time All-Star.
In April of the following year, Roy tore the meniscus in his right knee. He returned too soon to play in that spring's playoffs, and the combination of that tear, his lack of cartilage following a 2008 operation, and his career-long discomfort with both of his knees resulted in a 2010-11 campaign that was more frustrating than promising.
The highlight of that deadening season was clearly the dominant showcase that Roy put on during Game 4 of the Blazers' opening-round series against Dallas, one that saw Roy score 16 points in 23 minutes off of the Portland bench. This not only allowed Blazers fans to assume that an offseason of rest, coupled with the extended lockout, could have Roy back and firing at his 2009 levels once the 2011-12 season eventually tipped off. When word came of an amnesty provision in the newest collective bargaining agreement, one that would allow teams to cut highly paid players like Roy in order to save salary cap space, fans of 29 other teams wondered if theirs could be the one to pick up Roy as he worked his way back to health.
The bone-on-bone situation in his knee, sadly, will be too much to overcome. Cartilage protects too much, and a lack of it hinders way, way too much for those attempting to perform at this level. Roy, for all his gifts, will not be able to overcome something he's lacking in centimeters.
To have this happen in Portland, following the star-crossed careers of Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Greg Oden? It seems just as unfair to the fans as it does to the 27-year-old who will have to retire before he even hits his prime.
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