Roy Comes Back Home

SEATTLE - As students filtered into Bank of America Arena Thursday night, Jon Brockman was by himself on the court, going through his warmup. He was wearing a t-shirt with the number 3 on it, signifying Brandon Roy's jersey number. Roy's jersey was officially retired before the Huskies' 78-73 win over USC.

"I've been thinking all week about what this moment means, and I really can't put it into words," Roy said. He's the second Husky hoopster to be so honored, following the legendary Bob Houbregs. "I know I'm happy to be home. I owe this moment to my teammates and Coach Romar, and without those guys this wouldn't be possible. My jersey going up in the rafters represents what we did here at Washington. It may seem like it's Brandon Roy's jersey, but it's not. It's about this team and the moments we shared here."

The notion of team is paramount when thinking about Roy's accomplishments, because the record books don't tell the whole story. He barely squeaked into the Huskies' top-10 all time for scoring. He's seventh in assists all-time, more than 200 behind teammate Will Conroy.

Yet there's no one that would ever deny that he was the best player at Washington the minute he stepped on campus. That arrival almost never happened, due to academic scrapes. Roy took a job cleaning containers at a company by the Port of Seattle while he was waiting to get accepted by the school. He remembered vividly the conversations he'd have with his co-workers, chats that pushed him closer to his dream of playing Division-1 basketball

"They told me that when you get a chance to go to college and be successful, take full advantage of it," he said. "There's nothing wrong with what we do, but if you can do something better, you should definitely do it. This is nobody's dream, and you have the chance to live out your dream, so go for it."

The day Roy found out he was eligible ("That might have been the most important day of my life."), Romar was scrambling around his office. After having been summoned to talk to Romar, Roy wasn't sure if the news was what he hoped to hear.

"He said he was trying to figure out where he could get a jersey for me," said Roy, noting that when it dawned on him that he would finally get to fulfill his college aspirations, he hugged Romar for 'about five minutes'.

"I told him I didn't want to redshirt," Roy added. "The day I got cleared I told him I wanted to suit up."

And it had to be the number 3. That was due to a promise he made to his brother Ed, who was never able to realize his own hoop dreams. "He made the number popular," Roy said of his older brother. "When he didn't get a chance to play in college, I told him that I would do it for the both of us. So when I got to Washington I had to wear 3. It was his number. I don't know where he got it from, but I thought it was cool."

Former players Jamaal Williams, Spencer Hawes and Hans Gasser attended Thursday's celebration. Former UW quarterback Warren Moon and new Head Football Coach Steve Sarkisian were seen in the stands. But the night belonged to Brandon Roy and the University of Washington basketball team.

So as soon as Brockman started shooting, the other current members of the UW team started appearing from the UW locker room; Artem Wallace, Joe Wolfinger, Justin Dentmon, Elston Turner, Matthew Bryan-Amaning. All wearing the number 3. A team of treys. Really, a team of Roys.

Their game against USC wasn't pretty; they didn't shoot particularly well. They had 18 turnovers and were hounded all night by the Trojans' athleticism. But each player found their own inner Brandon Roy: Brockman missed all eight shots he took, but he made a huge impact with 13 rebounds. Justin Dentmon buried all 11 free throw shots he took, as the Huskies reversed a trend of poor form from the line with an 80-percent effort.

And the player Roy communicates most - freshman guard Isaiah Thomas - was stymied for the first 30 minutes but came roaring back in the second half to score 17 total points; a performance Roy would have no doubt tried to emulate.

"He's just that guy that's always around," Roy said of Thomas. "His ears are open and his eyes are big, and he just wants to learn more. It's easy to talk with him and work with him."

"It was weird, watching him getting his jersey retired, we got to win this game just because of that," Thomas said afterward. "It got us hyped up. We came out and played hard."

And no doubt, it was the presence of Roy and the grandeur of the moment - heck, he even admitted that it's kind of crazy to think that even a hundred years from now that jersey will still be hanging in the rafters - that proved once and for all 'The Provider' could impact a game even without stepping one foot on the court.

"I'm just at home here," he said of Hec Ed. "The moment I went to school here, there's no place like it. I go to other gyms and it's not the same. Here, I got my shoes off and I might not even play. That just brings back those memories. This is my home."

With his jersey now forever hanging overhead, it's hard to argue with him. Top Stories