Jan. 20, 2009
Thursday, Jan. 22 will mark a very special day in Husky Basketball history. Former standout Brandon Roy is returning to his old stomping grounds and will watch as his No. 3 is raised to the rafters of Bank of America Arena, joining the No. 25 of Bob Houbregs as the only retired hoops jerseys in UW history.
Roy completed his career at Washington in 2006 as one of the top players in school history. He was a key figure in the Huskies' three-straight NCAA Tournament and back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances. As a senior, Roy was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press, becoming the first Husky so honored since Houbregs in 1953.
Roy was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and was subsequently traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in his first professional season. He was a landslide winner of the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year award after he received 127 of 128 votes. In his second season in the NBA, he was selected as a reserve for the NBA All-Star Game. Now in his third NBA season, Roy is well on his way to a distinguished professional career.
Roy recently talked to Brian Tom of GoHuskies.com about the honor of having his jersey retired and his time at Washington.
GoHuskies.com: Can you put into words what having your number retired means to you and where on the list of your accomplishments it stands?
Brandon Roy: "Honestly, I can't put it into words because I've never really dreamed of the day of having my jersey retired. I've been thinking, 'How does it feel? Could I imagine this?' As a kid, I always wanted to play college basketball. As I got older I saw that U-Dub was realistic but I just wanted to have a good career there. I never thought I would be one of the guys they would retire (their jersey). It's hard to explain. It's humbling. It's a very humbling experience. And I think as far as my accomplishments it definitely shoots right to the top."
GH.com: Besides having your number retired, what is the accomplishment you are most proud of at Washington?
Roy: "I would have to say the thing I'm most proud of at Washington was when we won the Pac-10 Tournament title my junior season and we were awarded the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And for me, that was one of the best feelings ever because I grew up watching the NCAA Tournament and to be able to be there with my teammates and to be awarded the No. 1 seed and to always have that under my belt, that was an incredible feeling. I can still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was amazing. It's an honor for me but also for the fans and my family. Just the whole experience was incredible. "
GH.com: I was in the crowd for that one. People seemed really surprised, but there definitely was a lot of excitement in the air.
Roy: "Yeah, we thought we would be a two seed. I mean, honestly, I don't think anybody would have said, 'We might be a one seed.' We thought we would be a two seed. And then that one seed came about. That was a big surprise for me that the committee would award us a No. 1 seed."
Roy: "I think it prepared me perfectly for the situation I had to go into in Portland as a rookie. I had to step in right away and be a leader on and off the court. I think that's the biggest thing Coach Romar prepared me for. He didn't only develop me as a good basketball player, but he developed me as a person. So when people ask me how did it help, it's because in Portland I was placed in a situation where I was kind of the face of the franchise in my first and second year, and the only way I was ready for that was because he demanded that out of me at the University of Washington. I think every season I came back he made sure that I improved from the last season. I think he demanded that from me off the court. I think now in the NBA I take those good habits I practiced under him and I apply them to the NBA and I think because of that I've had a lot of early success."
GH.com: Along the same lines, how is Coach Romar similar to Portland Trailblazers' coach Nate McMillan?
Roy: "I think they are similar just with how disciplined they are and the discipline they demand out of their players. Playing for both of them, you see that they are both player-coaches. They both played in the NBA, they both played college basketball, so they understand what I'm going through out there on the floor. So when I have questions, it's like, 'Coach, what did you do in this situation, what did you do in that situation," and they both understand. The thing that I really like about both of them is that on the court, they are all business. You're not joking around with either one of them. But off the court, they joke around and you know people often say that Coach Nate is this hard-nosed guy, but off the court he jokes around with us, he talks, he tells us stories about when he was a player, and that's the same way Coach Romar was. It's similar that when they're on the court it's basketball first, but off the court they really care about their players and they take the time to get to know them personally. "
GH.com: What do you miss most about being a student-athlete and what do you miss the least?
Roy: "What I miss the most about being a student-athlete is that in college when we traveled everything we did was really team-oriented. It's a togetherness that you have in college. I think when you go into the NBA, guys are pros and they have their own families. But in college, you have your family but you know your team is almost first. It was the way we were always together. If we went to the movies, the whole team went. If we went to dinner, the whole team went. It's just that togetherness that sometimes I miss and not having it in the NBA. I think the thing I miss the least in college is probably the hard practices. Practices are often harder than in the NBA. "
GH.com: I know you're a little ways away from graduating. Do you have any plans to finish your degree yet?
Roy: "Oh definitely. I want to go back, hopefully this summer, and if everything goes right I'll be able to get scheduled for some classes. Hopefully two classes and try to get closer to my degree. You know, that's something I started so it's definitely something I want to finish. And it's something that my parents want me to finish. Plus, just for myself. I want to do it for myself because it's another one of those goals that I set. Go to the NBA. Go to college. Graduate. And I definitely want to try and achieve that. Also, for my kids, I want them to look up and know that their father graduated from the best university in the world."
Roy: "For me, I've always accomplished things through hard work. And, on the other side, I've been that guy that's overlooked. I've always just stayed grounded in my ways. My parents at an early age taught me to never get too high on the wins and never get too low on the losses. I've always taken that with me. Even making the All-Star Game, I'm just honored by the experience, but at the same time it's so delicate that I don't want to lose it. So I stay humble and hard-working in my approach. I would probably just say it's the way I've been raised. I've been taught to treat people respectfully no matter what situation I'm in. So it doesn't matter if I'm an All-Star or the last man on the roster, I'm going to treat people with respect. And I hope I'm treated the same way."
GH.com: How much do you follow the current Huskies squad and what are your thoughts on the season to date?
Roy: "I keep up with them as if I still played for the team. I'm a big fan of the Huskies and I talk to Coach Cameron Dollar, Coach Romar, Coach [Paul] Fortier and Coach [Jim] Shaw. I still keep up with those guys and keep up with the [players] off the court. It seems the team is doing really well. I was hurt after that loss against Cal. I was just destroyed after that game. But I'm definitely impressed with the team. I felt like if we would have won that game, we would have put ourselves right at the top of the Pac-10. [Side note: This interview took place before the Huskies swept Oregon and Oregon State] And a lot of college basketball is gaining that winning attitude and I think they are starting to develop that. It hurts to lose games for them now. And that's what I think we finally developed when I was playing. They're definitely starting to get that back. I'm thinking the NCAA Tournament and more for this team if they can continue to develop each day."
GH.com: Did that triple overtime game (against Cal) bring back any memories of the double overtime game against Arizona, by chance?
Roy: "Oh yeah, it actually did. I was watching and I thought, 'Man, I can remember checking that ball, going up the left side and making that crazy shot to send the game into another overtime.' I mean, I still watch and listen to the fans and I can remember me, Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Tre Simmons and all those guys, back out there, running up the court and enjoying those moments. It's the weirdest thing, here I am in the NBA and having fun with my new teammates, but I can still see the games as if it were yesterday."
GH.com: Do you and (fellow Seattleite, one-time Husky signee and current teammate) Martell Webster ever gang up against former Arizona players Jerryd Bayless and Channing Frye and trade smack talk?
Roy: "Oh yeah, it's a constant battle -- a constant struggle. Me and (former Arizona State player) Ike Diogu will sit in the locker room and talk about the old battles we had. Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless will be talking trash, and they'll even bring in some Big 12 guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, talking about whose team would have won if we would have still been there. It's fun, man. It's competitive. And especially being in Oregon I have to hear all those Ducks mouths talking about their team and I can't stand it. It's fun. I think everyone has their college that they are loyal to and I think I do a good job of arguing the Huskies case."
GH.com: Speaking of Oregon, if you could transplant anything to Portland that is exclusive to just Seattle, what would it be?
Roy: "We definitely need a Dick's in Portland. That's the thing we need. Oregon doesn't have a Space Needle, either. I would probably have to say like a Dick's burger. Just something that says Seattle. "
GH.com: What Oregon has over Washington is that it doesn't have that sales tax, but unfortunately for you they have an income tax?
Roy: "Yeah, exactly. That's the one that hits you. People always say, 'You don't have a sales tax.' And I'm like, 'Don't worry, they get their money.' They get their money no matter what."
GH.com: When you made the NBA did you allow yourself to buy something special?
Roy: "Really, the first thing I bought was a Cadillac Escalade. Growing up, I didn't really have a car unless I drove my parents. That was my first purchase and that was pretty cool. A little later I bought my first house and that was probably the purchase that meant the most to me. I said, 'Here I am, 21-years-old, and I'm buying a house.' I can just remember standing in the back yard, looking at the house, and saying 'This is my house. I own it.' That was a pretty special feeling. "
GH.com: You recently just had your second child. How has parenthood changed you and what are the most important lessons from your parents that you want to pass down to your kids?
Roy: "I think parenthood has changed me because I realized that life is not about me anymore. It's not like when I was in college when I was concentrating on myself and my future. Now it's changed because everything that I do, I always think of my kids first and how it would affect them. I think the greatest gift in the world is having kids, if you're ready for it. But for me, it's the best thing ever. When games are hard, or we lose, to go home to my kids and see that they don't care about it, and they just see that I'm home, they definitely do the job of making life a lot more fun for me. The lessons that I take from my parents, I would have to say, my parents were just very supportive of my life. I think a lot of kids can't say that. Just going forward, I want to be there for my kids and give them the tools to be successful, for whatever they want to do. That's what my parents did."