In my opinion, was one of the greatest “What Could Have Been” stories in NBA history. While many people look at the injury woes of Derrick Rose following his meteoric rise to the MVP and subsequent battles with staying healthy, a few years earlier, Brandon Roy faced a much similar fate.
While browsing some of my favorite NBA news sites, I stumbled across the news that a book was being released about the life and short-lived career of the former NBA Rookie of the Year and All-Star and I purchased from Amazon immediately.
As someone who loved watching Roy in the NBA, it was a fun read. I had gotten the pleasure of seeing Brandon play live and in-person at the NBA Vegas Summer League the year before his rookie year and seeing his excellent performance, he was well on my radar for his Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season. As someone who never watches much college basketball, that was my first exposure aside from the draft.
While in the league, Brandon was a superstar that stayed under the radar. He wouldn’t get the coverage of Lebron or Kobe but in Sports Illustrated’s 2010 mid-season report, he’d make the top players team alongside the aforementioned James and Bryant, along with other MVP candidates of the time in Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard.
He could also just drop 52-points in the flow of the game against playoff teams
As someone who loved watching him play, owned his Blazers jersey and tried to go see him live when he attempted to make a return as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, I loved reading some stories I never heard about.
This book is authored by Dan Ralley, a Washington based journalist who first witnessed Roy as an overlooked high school star. In the hotbed of basketball that Seattle has become, Roy was second banana to his older brother and less talked about then other area high school athletes, like his fifth grade classmate and college teammate Nate Robinson, and even guys who never made it past the collegiate level.
Ralley has a passion for Roy that is illustrated through the journey from Garfield High School when they first met through his time and journey to battle meeting the academic standards to play for the University of Washington Huskies.
Before reading this book, I had always seen what a smart, well-spoken individual Roy was on camera but never knew the journey of his academic struggles that paired with his early injury issues, almost ended his career before he even made the pros.
In the days where someone like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay go play overseas due to academic inefficiency and NBA age restrictions, we hear stories about how Roy prematurely auditioned for a few NBA teams as a high school such as a workout with the Toronto Raptors and a one-on-one tryout by his future Portland Trail Blazers against future NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Boris Diaw.
Roy’s character is on full display with stories of working manual labor jobs to earn his scholarship money in a container yard and dedicated four years t the Washington Huskies, where he would eventually be only the second player to have his number retired by the school’s basketball program (and arguably their most famous).
Brandon’s pro career, though sadly cut short, seems perfectly summarized in this 236-page read. Everything breezes along from childhood all the way through the last injury in the Minnesota comeback and you really wish we would’ve seen more of the special talent and individual.
My main issues with the book came with the author’s writing style. It wasn’t that the writing was bad but at times, it was very distracting. Raley is a news journalist and it shows. Often times the narrative of the book is interrupted by Raley hammering home very odd points. Such as the section in the start of the book where he goes on a rant about Roy being one of the few guys in the league who isn’t a miscreant like tattoos. He likens Roy to Tim Duncan but then even starts railing on Duncan for having a hidden tattoo.
Throughout the book, he has to remind us on several topics like the tattoo issue, ranging from the fact that Roy married his first and only girlfriend, to his humble nature and will randomly plug in quotes of other players to try to remind the reader that already knows how good Brandon Roy is, that Brandon Roy is good.
At times, I felt like this meshed as if the author took a bunch of his articles and jammed them together for a bigger book but this was a brand new project and simply seems like the author’s style, likely slipping by whatever editorial team present at the publisher’s office, Old Seattle Press.
Overall, the stories are worth the read and I was happy to support a project on an under-appreciated player who had his career cut way too soon. If you read this book, you should enjoy it and learn a lot of interesting stories on an All-Star that never got as much attention as his superstar peers but the writing itself does leave some to be desired and makes this quick read drag a little bit longer than it should.