Seattle-area NBA stars streamed into Spokane Arena on Saturday night, participating in the Jamal Crawford A PLUS Classic, but the most recognizable star was notably absent. Though Crawford and game organizers promoted Brandon Roy's participation, he was nowhere to be found in the NBA charity game raising funds for the Seattle-based A PLUS Youth Program.
The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly met with Roy in Seattle on Saturday night, a reasonable excuse for his absence in Spokane. Chicago, Dallas, Golden State and Indiana round out Roy's five finalists. The players participating in the A PLUS Classic lent their support and excitement for Roy's return.
76ers center Spencer Hawes, who missed teaming with Roy in college by one season, added: "It's good to see him healthy and playing better."
Less than a year has passed since Roy announced his NBA retirement shortly after the NBA lockout ended in early December. The former Washington Huskies standout cited his fragile knees that contained little cartilage after surgeries on both legs. In the past few months, speculation and rumors have circulated around Roy's possible comeback, and in mid-June Roy ended his silence through his former college teammate Will Conroy's twitter account:
"Lord Willing, I will play again soon," Roy said.
The question that teams like Chicago and Dallas need answered isn't whether Roy's knees are 100 percent, but whether his knees are healthy enough to help him contribute throughout a full season.
While he's been working out daily, he hasn't participated in an NBA game for over a year. Moreover, the initial decision to retire followed comprehensive medical advice and was nothing close to brash. Roy made a decision with the best information he had at the time.
"For us, we have to continue to support him. ... I knew it'd be tough for him when he retired," Jamal Crawford said.
Roy's decision to retire, while fully thought-out, left too many questions on the table for a player who's in complete love with the game. Assuming he's coming out of retirement to satisfy any unrest he feels and to reach a peace of mind, his decision isn't necessarily a bad one.
When Roy does sign with an NBA team, he's unlikely to receive a significant contract. His knees are an inherent risk, and any hope of him being a consistent starter in the league should be checked. Some argue Roy's knees don't need to be 100 percent because of his cerebral style of play on both ends of the court. However, this argument is flawed in the sense that there is still a certain baseline athleticism athletes must possess in the NBA. Bad knees will prevent Roy from performing at a high level regardless of how high his basketball I.Q. may be.
Regardless, no one is stopping Roy now from playing another NBA basketball game. He has a lot to prove after missing a full season, but that drive to prove himself might end up being just enough to satisfy the competitiveness he so direly missed during his year off from the NBA.
"He still does a lot of stuff on the floor that a lot of other players in the NBA can't do. At the end of the day he's still got a lot to do," Conroy said.