The PORTLAND OREGONIAN’s John Canzano, the designated s-stirrer in the Portland media, had a recent piece on Brandon Roy not being present on the floor for the Blazers when the national anthem goes off.
(Ironic that Mo’s anthem save happened on Roy’s home court)
For two seasons now, Roy leaves the court before “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed. He waits out of sight, in the arena tunnel, and has a quiet moment of prayer while his teammates stand and honor America together.
Something about that feels troubling. And this is only partly about patriotism.
Roy is the Blazers captain, and leader, and two-time All Star. And the Blazers are busy preaching unity, and trying to find one vision right up until the moment Roy detaches and leaves his team standing on the court without him. And while I understand his desire to have a personal moment to gather his thoughts, I think there is ample time for a meditative moment in the hours leading to the game and I worry that the statement he’s making is one of individualism.
What would the fallout be if Roy’s teammates decided to join their leader in the tunnel? What if Roy weren’t from Seattle, but rather, from Spain, like Rudy Fernandez? What of respect, and heritage, and ceremony? What of team unity and leadership when the ball isn’t in your hands?
With the local reputation Canzano brings to the piece, Portlanders may be more likely to dismiss his argument out of hand. But I think he’s got a valid point, especially considering Canzano’s crafting of the column.
Canzano gives the piece an even-handed treatment, and Roy is forthcoming, saying he’s willing to stop leaving the floor during the anthem if asked. He hasn’t been. Yet. Coach Nate McMillan didn’t sound too excited about Roy’s move, noting he’s the only guy in The League doing it. Sounds like that may change at some point. Especially after Canzano’s piece.
Me? Roy has plenty of time to gather himself via personal quiet time before the anthem. I view his move as much a personal affront to his teammates as to the anthem - though I don’t discount the latter.
Basketball, despite what dogmatic NBA haters may prattle on about, is a team game, and Roy’s move does nothing to promote that concept. I think what he’s doing is selfish, whether unwitting or not.
As Canzano notes, what if everyone did what Roy was doing? Why does he get special treatment? I admire Roy’s want to maximize the effectiveness of his mental approach, but there’s got to be a better way.
As for Canzano, I love that he has the guts to write something like this, and the care that he gave to it. I wish there was a Canzano in every town.
Meantime, let’s enjoy Mo Cheeks‘ national anthem save on Roy’s home court:
For the opposite perspective, check out ESPN True Hoop’s Henry Abbott on the matter.