What a night: Brandon Roy brings his Blazers to Garfield High
Before Thursday night's scrimmage started, Portland coach Nate McMillan stood at midcourt with Pete Carroll and told the crowd, "We're bringing NBA basketball back to you." Only for one evening, though.
Seattle Times staff reporter
For Brandon Roy, the gym looks different, but the memories are the same.
As the Portland Trail Blazers guard walked into the Garfield High School gym Thursday, he immediately thought back to his sophomore season and the first time he played for the Bulldogs.
He still remembers walking through the doors and taking the floor, his family sitting up in the corner of the bleachers. It would be a productive finish to a night in purple and white.
"I was so nervous just coming through these doors," Roy said. "My heart was like, boom, boom, boom, this is varsity."
When former teammate Will Conroy looks back at that game, he thinks of a player who performed so well his minutes mounted for the rest of the season.
"I remember he had a good game and it was hard for me to get back in the starting lineup, because coach didn't want to take him out again," Conroy said with a laugh.
As Roy stepped on the floor in front of a packed house for the Trail Blazers scrimmage, he was no longer that nervous sophomore. Any of those pregame jitters were replaced by a sense of satisfaction. He was happy to be home, thankful he could bring the NBA back to Seattle, if only for one night.
"I think this is the first time an NBA team has been back in Seattle since the Sonics, and to do it at my high school makes it real special," Roy said.
After Portland scrimmaged at Cleveland High School in Portland in 2008, Roy nonchalantly asked if the Trail Blazers could make the trek to Seattle for a scrimmage.
"I didn't think they would take it really serious," said Roy, who presented a $20,000 check to his alma mater at halftime.
When the organization said it was a possibility, Roy was incredulous.
"Are you serious?" he asked.
On Thursday night, with friends and family, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar and others in the gym, Roy's idea became a reality.
"As you can see by the crowd it's really the biggest thing to hit this community since the Sonics have left," Garfield coach Ed Haskins said. "We think we have some good basketball around here, but Brandon and what the Portland Trail Blazers are bringing tonight is totally on another level. It shows you how hungry Seattle is for professional basketball."
This isn't the first time Roy has donated time or money to his high school. However, he often chooses to give back quietly.
Those in attendance seemed to thank him with applause each time he scored.
Before the scrimmage started, Portland coach Nate McMillan stood at midcourt with Carroll and told the crowd, "We're bringing NBA basketball back to you."
It was only for one evening, but it proved a passion remains for the game in Seattle.
"I really feel like, one day, they will get an NBA team," McMillan said. "It's a great city. The fans are great here, and they will support a team."
Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or email@example.com
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