Friday, December 5, 2008

A calming, thoughtful leader

Brandon Roy seems to be the catalyst for Portland, which has won 14 of its first 20 games.

As SI's Ian Thomsen puts it: "The Trail Blazers are rising fast because Roy is slowing them down."

Portland's beat writer agrees, writing that Roy "sets a tone for the Blazers, both in the methodical tempo of his play, and in his subtle and confident way of guiding the team in the locker room."

"He has a pace about him that is a calming pace for me and the players,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "It's like he doesn't show emotions or being rattled.''

Thomsen contends that "Roy is the most valuable piece of the league's most promising young team not because of his athletic instincts, but because he has spent his short career taking the time to think things through."

According to Roy:

"I'm always trying to analyze things. I try to see what may work for another player, and see what may work for me. I've always played that way, even in high school. I always thought the game. Sometimes when the athleticism isn't there, having that edge of thinking the game helps me a lot. Especially on nights when my legs aren't there, but I'm thinking, 'If I can just get this move or I can just make this cut...' That's my strength: Maybe not running and jumping, but just thinking the game a little bit."

Roy has quietly -- but clearly -- become POR's team leader.

Earlier this season, in a game at Minnesota at the end of a long trip, the team found itself in an unsuspecting dogfight against the Timberwolves. As the Blazers were trailing in the second half, the players were becoming tense, and coach Nate McMillan admitted he was beginning to lose his cool. McMillan was priming himself to tear into his team to ignite a spark.

But then he heard Roy talking to his teammates on the bench.

"He was telling the guys, 'It's OK. We're just missing shots. Everything is going to be fine,'" McMillan said. "Me, I'm coming at the guys in a different way, but when he says it, and because it's coming from him ... I mean, even me, I'm like, 'Well Brandon said we are OK. Cool.' And I'm sure the guys felt the same way."

POR came back to win 88-83 after holding the MIN to 12 fourth-quarter points.

According to Roy's teammate Channing Frye, "There is no question he is the leader of this team, and he does it in his own way. It's not like he is ever in the middle of the locker room, demanding or giving speeches, he's never like that. He's very subtle, maybe it's on the bus, or after a timeout, and he just talks to us. And he is just one of those guys who when he talks, people listen. He's very, very real."

After games, when the Blazers are in the locker room, "the Blazers players almost stop dressing in order to listen to what Roy says to the media. They value his opinion, and they want to hear what he has to say. And Roy has developed an effective way of knowing when to slightly raise his voice as if to make a point that everyone else should hear."

"We are not going to wake up one day and be good," Roy said. "That's why I have been working this locker room. We have to work for it, and we have to work for it every day. It's not just going to happen."