Any time an athlete is able to overcome a devastating injury to get back to playing the game he loves, it makes for a wonderful story. When Roy was finally struck down by degenerative knee issues prior to last season, it marked an awful end to a promising NBA career.
Roy's announcement via a friend's Twitter account this weekend that he plans to return next season therefore could be met with smiles and cheers — and it was. But am I the only one who recalls the circumstances surrounding Roy's "retirement?" Does nobody else remember that a doctor "flatly told" Roy he should no longer play, according to a report by The Oregonian at the time?
Think about those words for a minute. The doctor did not "recommend" or "advise" Roy to "consider" retirement. The doctor "flatly told" Roy that he needed to retire to stave off long-term medical problems to his knees, which had been operated on six times and had no cartilage remaining.
If this is what Roy needs to find fulfillment in his life, then to each his own. If another doctor discovered a miracle treatment for the feeble state of Roy's knees, then let us marvel at the wonders of science. Count me as one who is tentative about fully embracing Roy's return, though. More than memories of Roy's former greatness, the anecdote that defines Roy in my mind is one that involves his then-girlfriend Tiana Bardwell and their son, B.J.
The story goes that a few years ago — June 6, 2007, according to Jason Quick of The Oregonian — Roy sent Tiana a text message telling her to look in a drawer and that she could have whatever she found. When Tiana found a ring, Roy entered the room with 16-month-old B.J. and said, "B.J. wants to know if you will marry his daddy." She did, and the couple had another child, a daughter named Mariah, in 2009.
The "long-term effects" most people consider when they think of a professional athlete's health are play-related, but in light of Roy's proposal story, I think of something much different. Should Roy return to the court, I wish him a long and happy second chapter to his career, of course. More than that, though, I hope that in five years he can still kneel down to play with Mariah, or bend his knees enough in six years years to show B.J. a proper defensive stance.
Playing basketball for a living is one of the greatest gifts a man can be given. The greatest gift of all, though, is a family that he can love and enjoy. As long as Roy's comeback does not interfere with that, then here's to seeing him back on the court soon.