Countdown to Tipoff: Brandon Roy
Editor’s note: In the days leading up to Friday’s regular season opener against the Kings, Timberwolves.com will highlight three new members of the Wolves’ team that fans will see during the 2012-13 campaign. Minnesota faces Sacramento at 7 p.m. tonight at Target Center. The game will be televised on My 29 and broadcast on the radio at 830 WCCO-AM.
Brandon Roy has had it both ways. A year ago, as his former teammates and peers around the NBA were preparing for opening week, Roy was at home fielding all the somber messages. Ones expressing regret about his recent retirement from basketball because of his knees.
This time around, the messages are different. This time, he’s fielding well-wishes as he makes his comeback. He’s blocking off tickets for his family to come to town and watch tonight’s regular season opener against Sacramento at Target Center. He’s back in uniform, finally able to play a game that matters after thinking about this evening for months since announcing he’d officially be returning with the Timberwolves.
The only problem? As the messages grow, so does the anticipation.
“It’s funny, people have been texting me the last two or three days saying, ‘Good luck tonight.’ I’m like, ‘We don’t play until Friday,’” Roy joked. “People keep texting me, texting me, and I’m like, it’s Tuesday, Wednesday. It’s good to finally have it here.”
This truly is a big night, and it’s not just for Roy. This is a three-time All-Star shooting guard who, in his best seasons, was a top-10 scorer and one of the league’s best clutch performers while in Portland. Tonight’s tipoff between the Wolves and Kings at 7 p.m. is more than just a comeback, it’s the continuation of a story that wasn’t quite ready to be finished.
Tonight’s game is televised on WFTC-29 and broadcast on 830 WCCO-AM.
When Roy announced his retirement just before the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season began, the possibility of suiting up tonight didn’t seem very possible. Then came an offseason in which he underwent a revitalizing knee procedure, worked out with former coaches and teammates like Wolves assistant Bill Bayno and guard Will Conroy, and by July he was sitting in Target Center next to President of Basketball Operations David Kahn announcing his comeback.
He’s been through a week of Training Camp in Mankato, seven preseason games and countless workouts and practices since that afternoon in late July, and for the most part he’s withstood all of the drills and minutes thrown at him on the court. He’s still finding his way to the basket, drawing fouls, diving for loose balls and showing the intangibles he portrayed during his All-Star years with the Blazers.
In other words, Roy isn’t holding back. He’s all in, and come tipoff tonight it will mark months of anticipation on Roy’s part.
“This summer that was something I thought about a lot,” Roy said. “I’ll be able to be part of opening weekend again.”
Things have changed, too. Since Roy signed, the Wolves lost All-Star forward Kevin Love to a broken hand this preseason, and Roy’s offensive presence is becoming even more important early on in the schedule.
Coach Rick Adelman said he doesn’t have a specific minute plan in place for Roy to start the year, but both said they’ve talked and have a general idea of how they’ll approach it. Adelman said this week 30-32 minutes per game could be the initial timeline, and Roy will be starting at shooting guard as long as he’s healthy.
“So far he’s gotten through,” Adelman said. “And I do think it’s something we’re all, the team, myself and him, we’ll all have to adjust to as the games come and see how much we’re going to play him.”
Adelman said Roy has shown his skills during the past month. In the long-term, just how much Roy’s knees will be able to handle the day-to-day grind of the regular season will tell the tale. As Roy said, after the initial thrill of tonight’s opener is over the team had 81 more contests before the regular season ends.
“We have to judge it day-by-day,” Adelman said. “I don’t think you plan two weeks in advance. I think you just take it as it comes and have other guys ready if he can’t go.”
No question Roy is ready for tonight. He’s been anticipating this comeback for a long time, and although he’s played a full preseason slate, this one will count in the record books.
The Wolves are back, and so is Roy. Bring on the texts, even if some of those well-wishes were a little premature.
“It seems like we’re the last team to play, but it doesn’t matter,” Roy said.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now.”