On Friday, when we posted the unfortunate news about Brandon Roy being forced into medical retirement, we were moved by the instant outpouring of love for B-Roy from our readers. So we thought today was as good as any to post Roy’s national magazine cover debut from Dime #48.
In just his third season in the NBA, the two-time All-Star had become one of the young talents expected to carry the League into the future. The Portland Trail Blazers handed him the keys to their franchise from the moment he stepped into the practice facility, and B-Roy had responded by putting them in position to make their first playoff appearance since 2003.
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As the Blazers wrap up one of their final practices before 2009 All-Star Weekend, a couple handfuls of reporters and cameramen surround head coach Nate McMillan, who talks about his team while still keeping his eyes on three baskets around the gym: one where Greg Oden works on his post moves; another where Nicolas Batum and Travis Outlaw take turns burying mid-rang jumpers, and one far off where Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu play a mismatch game of one-on-one. No one on the court is older than 25, a reminder of why McMillan has to keep watch over this young group — the youngest team in the League when you take forever-inactive Raef LaFrentz out of the equation. And as each player makes his way off the court, he’s greeted by small groups of media with short rounds of questions.
But really, everyone is waiting for Brandon Roy. Having disappeared moments after McMillan dismissed the team, Roy is still scheduled to take questions in his own post-practice quasi-press conference. When he finally emerges, the other Blazers in the room suddenly become invisible, as the scribes and shooters converge on Roy like sand rushing to the skinny part of an hourglass before he’s made it three steps out of the weight room. Bright lights, boom mikes and handheld recorders poke at his face like stiff left jabs as Roy, unflappable as usual, takes questions about earning his second straight All-Star berth and his team’s place in the standings — fourth in the Western Conference going into the break.
One local beat writer asks B-Roy about the cameras and lights and backdrops being set up on the opposite side of the gym, the ones there for Brandon’s Dime cover photo shoot that will take place after this interview session. Asked if he likes what this kind of attention means for his mainstream profile, Roy glances over at the rack of outfits laid out for him.
“It’s hard to say. On one hand, I want the respect of being a great player, but on the other hand, I don’t like all the attention,” Roy says. “But I definitely feel like a national magazine cover, yeah, that’s great for me. I’ve never done any big magazine covers; I’ve done some local stuff, but on a major magazine? That’s pretty cool. It’s almost like I’m taking that next step to being one of the guys that are, like, stars in the NBA.”