Thursday, December 16, 2010

Structural Damage

I'll get to the first third or so of the season for the Mavericks in a day or so -- hey, I'm juggling obsession with a full-time job that doesn't allow me an Internet connection. Today I want to share some deep thoughts.

Brandon Roy, the alpha of the Portland Trailblazers, has decided to ignore minutes restrictions designed to limit pain and damage to an injured knee. What happened was last year during the playoffs he suffered a bone bruise and a meniscus tear. Instead of calling it quits he came back after eight days and played out the Blazers postseason. If I'm understanding what I'm hearing correctly, the damage never healed right and now Roy suffers chronic pain.

I read a column that calls Roy's decision to keep playing even though his knee's not right "heroic." Heroic my ass. It's cut a hole in his strength. Without confidence in his body, he's a shadow of himself. If his knee never heals -- and if he keeps playing it might not -- it'll only get worse.

And that's not the most insidious part. Chronic pain changes you. Poison builds up in your spirit, and sooner or later you start spreading it around. You can't help it, but that doesn't help the other people in the situation. Brandon Roy, who a few years ago was hailed as one of the league's finest keystone guys, is at that point. He's saying even when he's good the team's not consistant enough to win games, talking shit about his backcourt partner Andre Miller, muttering things about spacing and being a go-to guy . . .

Metaphor time. There's a guy and he smokes. He's been doing it for years. He coughs a lot, but doesn't everybody this time of year/hasn't the flu been making the rounds/didn't the environmental guys just get done dusting out the air vents? And then one day, he starts coughing, and he tastes blood.

The Blazers are that guy and Brandon Roy is the ciagrettes. Malignancies are slowly growing in the corners of the locker room. The Blazers offense relies on him to play in ways he no longer can and there aren't enough wins to make the pain bearable. He's not being heroic, he's in denial.

I'm all about overcoming physical limitations. Shit, that's one of the many things I adore about Nowitzki. But I'm also in favor of long-term rewards. Playing through pain is fine, but not if you're jeopardizing yourself long-term. By trying to play through the pain, Brandon Roy is making a bad choice. The Blazers are not going to advance in the postseason with him playing as a hesitant, crippled crab version of himself, and sooner or later his body will pay him back with an injury he can't play through.

Mr. Roy, Coach McMillan, Trailblazers organization . . . please. Accept reality. Brandon Roy cannot be your guy this year. Deactivate him, deliver him into the hands of the best physical therapists you can find, and if you're praying folk, pray.

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