NBA / Nov 25, 2009 / 4:27 pm

Controversy in Portland? Brandon Roy and the National Anthem

Brandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

Brandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

Now that somebody has called attention to it, let’s see how this one plays out.

In today’s Oregonian, columnist John Canzano writes about something most people didn’t even know about Brandon Roy: That he takes the time during the every-game playing of the National Anthem to say a prayer. By himself. In the tunnel and away from the court. An excerpt from that column:

It is not a political statement. It is not a protest. He said it is not intended as a slap on patriotism, or the ongoing war but Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy has long been absent from the Rose Garden Arena floor during the national anthem.

For two seasons now, Roy leaves the court before “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed. He waits out of sight, in the arena tunnel, and has a quiet moment of prayer while his teammates stand and honor America together.

Something about that feels troubling.

Roy is the Blazers captain, and leader, and two-time All Star. And while I understand his desire to have a personal moment to gather his thoughts, I think there is ample time for a meditative moment in the hours leading to the game and I worry that the statement he’s making is one of individualism.

I hate stories like this, where people who don’t even know a man get to criticize his patriotism, or lack thereof. Not saying Canzano doesn’t know Roy — he’s been covering the team closely ever since Roy arrived — but fans and other media types will get ahold of this story and have their way with it.

Understand, I grew up in a family where some people will blatantly turn their back on the Anthem. I got the same speeches and propaganda that every Black child in inner-city America gets; the one that doesn’t paint America out to be the greatest place in the world. I was taught that men like Muhammad Ali, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Craig Hodges were admirable for taking a stance against the U.S. government and this country’s patriotic practices. So my natural leaning is to let whoever doesn’t want to stand in line for the Anthem do their thing; to let every man be his own man.

But that’s not the point. Canzano brought up an interesting question: While we’re still waiting for a national reaction on B-Roy, what if it were Rudy Fernandez not making himself visible during the Anthem? And this wasn’t mentioned in the column, but what if it were Darius Miles or Ruben Patterson or one of the other infamous players from the “Jail Blazers” era?

My question: What will the reaction be to Roy — one of the NBA’s known good guys — and how will it compare to the reaction people had to Abdul-Rauf? Years ago when Abdul-Rauf caused an Anthem-related controversy, he was doing the same thing Roy is doing now: praying. The two differences are that Abdul-Rauf expressed political reasons behind not standing for the Anthem, and he was praying a Muslim prayer. Roy, presumably, is praying a Christian prayer.

“It’s not me doing some (star-treatment) thing,” Roy told reporters, “Kobe Bryant is out there for the Anthem. It’s just something I’ve done for the last two years to have a quiet moment to myself.”

Odds are, now that it’s come to light, Roy will probably start falling in line to avoid a bigger controversy. I’ve known Roy personally since we were both in elementary school. His good-guy reputation isn’t an act. He doesn’t deserve to have his patriotism questioned, but we’ve seen how these things turn out. Even in Portland, where he’s a beloved figure on a beloved team, expect to hear at least a couple of boos the next time he takes the court.

I really hope this doesn’t become a bigger, blown out of proportion story. And that might sound like a wish counter-productive to the fact that I just called more attention to it, but I wanted to see what readers think of the Anthem practice and our attitudes around it.

*Follow Austin Burton on Twitter: @AustinatDIMEmag
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  • fallinup

    My personal views: I have no problem with it for the same reasons stated above. To each his own… it’s taken myself quite a long time to stand with everyone else for the Anthem… so what ever Roy’s reasons… whats the big deal?

    I’d be surprised it hasn’t been a big stink so far.. but it is Portland.. I hear it’s pretty Liberal over there.

    I hope shit doesn’t reflect bad on Roy now. He doesn’t deserve it.

  • Rizwan

    John Canzano is an idiot! So what, he’s not there during the national anthem? Half the players that are out there dont even know the words! Austin’s right – its gonna be blown out of proportion!

    BTW, welcome back Austin. I thought Gerald had locked you up somewhere and taken all your gigs!

  • bliz289

    If that’s how he prepares himself the moment before the game, it seems pretty harmless.

  • Nautic

    Good, I’m glad Roy is doing the right thing. Being present for an anthem is not important. You live in the country, pay your taxes, help your neighbours. That is how someone becomes a good citizen. Being present for the anthem is not as important, half the players don’t even take the anthem seriously and constantly move around while in attendace. At least Roy is paying respect to God and no one should question that. Ideally he should be out there for the anthem. But if he is having difficulty making time for the anthem and God, then God is more important and is the one thing that cannot changee in the future. Besides, more NBA players need positive Christian role models who are willing to stand up for their beliefs and thank God through action and not just by words. Roy has been doing this routine for two years now so it is not a political or racially motivated stance but this is his routine. If he wants to thank God then he can and should thank God without interference or ridicule from anyone else. Go Blazers.

  • quest???

    If he wants to do it, then let him do it. Personally, Everytime the anthem is sang at an event or at games i play, i sit down, because i do not agree with many of the united states laws and the blatant violations they commit against my people and my land. Now im not saying i hate america or anything like that, because i am grateful of some things they have done, but i disagree with most of their actions in the international community.

  • Big T

    Agreed, let him sit in the tunnel solo and look like a jackass, while his entire team is unified.

  • BoJo

    I am guessing everyone that says they do not care how Roy acts during the National Anthem has ever lost someone close to them in war. I lost my best friend to war and I see the Star Spangled Banner as a representation of what he sacrificed, not a representation of how mistakes this country has made. To me it is a representation of us being able to post differing opinions on here. In fact it is a representation of Roy being able to have the freedom to excuse himself to the tunnel. I am not saying what he is doing is wrong or what I am saying is right, but it is how I look at the flag and the National Anthem. And in all honesty it does slightly change my opinion of Roy(not that that matters to anyone but me anyway).

  • phong60073

    This John Canzano character must have nothing better to report. Who cares that Roy isn’t around for the anthem? This is totally different from the reasons Muhammad Ali, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Craig Hodges dodged the athem. And even those guys, they were taking a stand against the USA for their own beliefs. The foundation of the USA was/should be about the ability of individuals to stand up against whoever for their beliefs. People forget that the basis for the founding of this country was due to standing up against a government that the people did not believe in. Now, the fact that Roy is praying should be applauded not looked down upon. The man from all accounts is an upstanding person and good guy. We should be promoting this type of person more instead of the knuckleheads that normally get all the media coverage.

    Besides, changes in anything cannot come until someone stands up and challenges the establishment. While Roy is probably not protesting anything, I still think this should be used as an example for the youth to stand up for your beliefs and not let outside influences alter what you believe in.

  • Diego

    My natural reaction is to think Roy is an immature, spoiled moron (actually, the term that came to mind was “douche bag”).

    If nothing else, when you have a job, you have to obey certain rules. Lots of players probably would prefer not to tuck in their shirts, but it is not allowed. I’d prefer not to wear a suit and tie to my job, but I’ve got to do it. Respect the anthem Roy. There are oodles of foreign athletes in the NBA who stand for the anthem who don’t have any allegiance to the U.S. other than a paycheck. I think you can too. There is a lot of time before and after the anthem for prayer and meditation.

    There are lots of people who would love to come to the U.S., but legal immigration is remarkably difficult. Roy should take a year off and do some mission work in a developing country in Africa, and maybe he’ll feel some love for the U.S.

  • Mack Brownee

    it’s probably just a superstition roy has

  • me

    Post 7 and 8 are idiots.
    I’ve never understood how anyone judges anyone else on things that don’t involve them.
    Ur friend died in the war- what’s that got to do with roy? Nothing.

  • GoEasy

    So typically American of all of you for making such a big deal out of this. Can’t believe this even warrants an article.

  • Dapro

    The bigger issue here is that were saying it’s bigger deal to recite the national anthem then it is to say a prayer.

    This should be a non-issue

  • Taj

    In my opinion, him standing there or not has no bearing what he does on the court.. No one in Portland or any city for that matter go to watch a player listen to an anthem. They go to see them play! So let the man do his thing…

    Diego, I dont think its that he has no love for his country.. This is thr country that made him who he is today, no reason for him not to love that.

  • bballinca

    Just playing devil’s advocate because I don’t have a problem with what he is doing but can’t he say his prayer out on the court with his teammates?

  • Pdxballer

    This is all insane to be arguing about.

    I agree with everyone except posts 7 and 8. But the anthem means different things to everyone and just because Roy has this particular pregame ritual doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect veterans, casualties of war and the U.S. in general.

    Also, why is this an issue now? He’s been doing this for 2 years and now that someone noticed, it’s controversial? I mean come on how can Rasheed Wallace be able to say “fuck your rookies” and Brandon isn’t allowed to pray?!?

  • Pdxballer

    Or I don’t agree with phong and diego

  • the cynic

    who cares? its a song, not even a creative one

  • Ekstor


    I don’t know Brandon, so I can’t say for sure what his reasons are why he would pray in private, but my instincts tell me Matthew 6:5-6 may have something to do with it.

    “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:5-6

    Indeed, if he’s not breaking any rules, then I’m with Nautic (poster #4). Nothing we have came outside of the provision of the Almighty.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/slamonline-top-50/2009/10/top-50-carmelo-anthony-no-7/ Mr. TKO

    I’ve been in the military for years, I have family from overseas, I’ve dealt with discrimination and even with all this I don’t see how this is a problem. One of my good friends is in Iraq right now, and an even closer one is preparing to head to Afghanistan in a few months after a wedding and I doubt that any of them would be concerned about this.
    The whole point of America is supposed to be the Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and etc….

    Are you telling me that you’ll legitimately lose respect for somebody that decides to take the time to pray instead of saying the Pledge of Allegiance as opposed to somebody that just stands in position during the pledge thinking about all types of non politically correct things? The way you carry yourself in life is way more important to me than if you stand up or not during the pledge of allegiance.

  • rpxxiv

    First off, Canzano is not a welcomed columnist in Portland. He spends time in his editorials and on his radio show, finding things that “Stir the Pot”. He’s been critical of the Blazers for every good or bad deed that they do. When the Blazers do something good, it was either not good enough or there was some ulterior motive. When they did something bad, it was the worst possible thing that any organization has ever done.

    And what’s worse, he draws his conclusions and announces that he’s the voice of the fans that deserve better. It’s nothing more than a ratings grab and he should have been fired along with all of the Oregonians layoffs.

    Also, if you think about it, how many times does B-Roy have to listen to amateur, over funked, lame renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. In a season, he’s subjected to 82 or more versions of the same song. If he prepares himself for just those few moments when the focus is not on him, he should go for it.

    I’ve been to quite a few games over the years. I can tell you that Brandon having a few moments of silence, outside of courtview, is no more disrespectful from the drunk assholes in the audience that are checking their Blackberrys or scarfing the overpriced nachos before tip-off.

    Brandon is representing his team on the court and the rest of the guys probably don’t mind the absence from some second rate performance of our national anthem.

    As a Blazer fan, B-Roy’s moment away from the spotlight for just a brief moment has no reflection on his patriotism or his dedication to his teammates.

    Canzano should be the one that should be catching any flack and should move away from the Portland Area. He claims it’s all for journalistic integrity, but all it is is his big mouth and a bad attitude.

  • Gunner J. Matthews

    I hope nobody blows this out of porportion because its no big deal (at least to me it isnt)

  • dekko

    Canzano the hypocrite

    Canazno last year writes an article praising Roy, including retreating to the tunnel to pray while he listens to the anthem..


    A private guy who should be in the public’s eye

    (jocking him for the all-star game)

    (After pointing out how hard it is to get a private moment)

    So yeah. Roy retreats to the tunnel before games. He bows his head. He listens to the anthem. And Roy said: “I say a little prayer and have a little time to myself.” And maybe that doesn’t strike you as a team leader thinking team, and being part of a team, but his teammates don’t mind.

    He’s always there for his team when the lights go up, isn’t he?

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges, and Muhamed Ali are heroes.

    Mr TKO hit it on the head…

  • Thype

    Laugh at the patriotism comments, absolutely hilarious.

    This guy has been nothing but a model citizen in SEA and PDX. Much like you don’t have to bow your head everytime you pray, you sure as hell don’t have to have your hand over your heart, reciting something that very few take to heart anymore.

    Silliness, the local writer that put this story together gets a hard on every time he comes up with something controversial because it gives him something to talk about, but more importantly more radio listeners.

    It’s a disgrace to question anyone’s patriotism, especially in the name of ‘journalism’.

    Fucking assholes, seriously.

  • Tood

    Roy has the right to do this, that much is certain. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but there are responsibilities and burdens that must also be accounted for when one exercises this freedom, especially under a large microscope like the NBA. If Brandon wishes to not be present for something symbolic such as a moment of respect for all of the wonderful things we have been afforded, then he certainly must realize there will be a PR price to pay and many will be alienated. I laugh at the hard and absolute opinions that some on these blogs will utter when this is nothing more or nothing less than an individual citizen making a conscience choice and living with the circumstances.

  • Colton

    its harmless … boo to anyone who thinks otherwise.
    its not your business, nor should you care what he does outside of the court. at least hes not kickin babies and punching women, i think we should let him slide on his own personal prayer.

  • Chitown hoops

    I will first off say that I really like how everyone is pretty civil about this topic. A lot of times people just go crazy on things like this on message boards.

    I feel that Roy should be able to do what he feels is best for him in the situation as long as it is respectful. I am usually the guy that yells at people who do not take of their hats for the anthem so its not like I dont care about it. The thing is it is a personal thing to each person. Roy is not trying to cause anything and has the right to what he feels is best. It is much more disrespectful when the players are there and you can tell they are just trying to get it over with.

  • Off-Curry

    I’m sure there’re a lot of players are just out there for the anthem even if not wanting to just because they wouldn’t want to deal with shit like this afterward. They just sucked it in.

  • http://myspace.com/40sand9s loc

    Patriotism is stupid and America is the worst for it.

    Nationalism/Patriotism works well for nobody except those in power.

    Let’s all go buy miniflags and decorate our homes! MURRRCA!!!!

  • Birdy


    You said that there is a time to let a man be a man. Well, where I come from being a man sometimes means that you have to do sh*t that you dont wanna do. I don’t want to clean up my dog’s sh*t, but guess what, I gotta be a man and clean it up.

    When he is doing his own thing, he is turning his back on his teammates. All of them have to stand and wait for the national anthem to be played so why shouldn’t he? Why does he get special treatment just because he wants to have a little prayer in the back?

    If you don’t want to hear it, then don’t. But please at least support your teammates because it doesn’t seem that they get to do the same thing as you…

  • Flip

    It’s so discouraging to see how quickly so called “patriotism” can turn into xenophobia and intolerance… Just wait for some idiot to call Roy’s behavior “unamerican”!

  • Mario

    Uh Oh, I’m waiting for FOX News to get an objective view on this – like “Breaking news: NBA All Star disrespects the US and our brave women & men overseas!”

    Personally I dont care what he does during the anthem…didnt care about Abdul-Rauf, dont care about Roy.

  • http://threeb.forumotion.net/ Dean

    Chris Jackson got kicked out of the league for acting like this. Can’t wait to see how this pans out.

    I personally don’t give a shit what he does.
    I just enjoy watching his awesome game.

  • jop

    i dont think anything is going to come of this. im as patriotic as it gets, but if a man wants to have a moment of silence in the tunnel to say a prayer, so be it. and i cant really see anyone in portland booing, the city is pretty liberal. in the end, its a pointless article creating news.

  • chief youngblood

    why isn’t this guy writing a story about greg oden finally playing up the potential , or the blazers being hot enough to maybe win the west.

    if i lived in portland i’d let b-roy do what eva the fuck he wants.

    they got a great exciting team , i love to watch , they should be writing stories bout that

  • kowtz

    Not giving respect is different from being disrespectfull… That’s why he’s so far away in the tunnel… don’t blow it out of proportion…

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was previously known as Chris Smith and was a teammate of Shaq at LSU.

  • spirow

    I’m happy with roy taking a stand. . . someone needs to be a sheppard and not sheep. . . We all follow so blindly. . . I don’t believe in patriotism because I think these lines that define countries are imaginary lines that us humans create. . . If I was in the NBA I would protest the anthem of any country. . . Weather Canada or USA or east of the world a country like Iran. . . The message should be simple, we’re all one big familiy beneath the one big sky. . .

  • Josh Tha roc

    @ 38
    chris jackson.

  • Thype

    @ 39

    BRoy isn’t taking a stand, he went out for the national anthem last game (against the Nets).

    BRoy is all about being a model player and not causing issues. It’s only an issue because of the media. If it weren’t for the media, honestly, nobody would of even noticed.

  • Jason

    Feel sorry for most of you, I really do. Reading these posts makes me never want to visit this site again b/c of the lack of intelligence of “most” of you. These guys collect these checks in The United States of America. That song is a thank you to all of those who have sacrificed their time and lives in order for those to make the millions they make and for you idiots to have the freedom to write this garbage. So before you say how you agree so much with what Roy is doing, remember this song is praising those who gave you the right. Moran’s I swear!!!! God help us all if you are our future.

  • brooklynite

    Okay “Jason”, first of all, no soldier gave any man or woman in this ocuntry the right to earn a living. God gave every human being that right. Secondly, to posters 7 & 6: GET A LIFE!! Roy has NOTHING to do with the deaths f your dead relatives who CHOSE to go to war. A stupid song isn’t as important as a prayer. Roy is with his team when it comes to basketball. Beyond that, his paryers are his business. They only people loking like jackasses are the ones criticizing him.

  • brooklynite

    To Austin:

    I don’t know what “propaganda” you’re referring to but your poor attempt to cater to white readers by insulting Black parents who raise socially aware children exposes you as the Unlce Tom that you are. Congrats on that.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @brooklynite — There’s a difference between socially aware and going overboard. While my elders raised me to be socially aware and I’m thankful for that, I’m smart enough to realize that sometimes they went overboard. For example, my grandpa used to tell me that White people were aliens. I’d put that in the “propaganda” category rather than the “socially aware.” But go ahead and keep making yourself look foolish.

  • Soul Brova 1

    it’s funny that everyone who screams that he’s not patriotic or such fail to realize that he is simply exercising the freedom that the anthem represents. This country is supposed to be built upon freedoms of religion, expression and such but when your expression doesn’t fall in line with the masses then you are unpatriotic. That hypocrisy along with a plethora of others is why the country is where it’s at. It’s going to be white people who have issues with this let’s be honest. Are these same white people blasting the white people who still do not support President Barack Hussein Obama? How unpatriotic is that? Another argument that pisses me off is that these athletes should be grateful t hat they are making the money they are making. Peep the flip side that blacks are still denied opportunities to make it in corporate america and in fields such as medicine. Why are our opportunities to make money limited to areas where the window is so small (fashion, entertainment, sports, drugs) and while they do make large sums of money in these fields at the same time they generate so much more revenue (specifically in sports and drugs)for some white person. They need to focus more on why little Brandon Roy’s fifth grade curriculum is two years behind a Japanese third graders curriculum rather than why big Brandon Roy chooses to exercise his freedom of expression. Also would like to add that for all that blacks have done for this country we still do not get the respect or recognition and the reason the foreign players stand is because this country shows them so much more love. America is the only place in the world that goes and outsources jobs to foreign people who don’t spend a dime in this country while leaving skilled, qualified and mostly minority workers jobless; the same ones they rely on to purchase their goods and services. Only in America! How patriotic is that and why aren’t more of us not standing for that? Peace.

  • Dragonyeuw

    Insinuate. Incite. Instigate. Three things the media does very well at times. There are lots of ways to show yourself a patriotic person, standing on the court during the anthem doesn’t make one any more respectful. At the least Roy is praying, is the Anthem now more a priority over praying to your personal God? People have their beliefs, who are we to judge?

    This is NOT a big deal. Let’s not make it into one.

  • Jim

    It is a sad and pathetic day for America, to see so many people supporting B. Roy’s ignorant and ungrateful behavior during the national anthem. It is not surprising however, considering the brainwashing by the America-haters and Marxists infesting our educational system. Those who do so, and who call the anthem “stupid”, and “meaningless”, are simply parroting the anti-American lies and distortions taught to them by their America-hating liberal/Marxist teachers and professors, and know nothing about the wonderful country bequeethed to us by God, and our founding fathers, who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of freedom and opportunity in this (formerly) free Republic. FYI, fools – a major plank of the Communist infiltration of America is to destroy patriotism, and break down our love of country, as one of their many tactics to destroy America, and our culture. The people who they coerce and deceive into such “sophisticted”, “wordly” hatred of their own country, and who promote such anti-American lies and propoganda, they call “useful idiots”. Besides being useful idiots for the Communists, they are brainwashed fools and ingrates. They really do not deserve to live in a free country, which gives them 1st Amendment rights to spout their lame, liberal drivel. If you don’t like or respect or honor America, why don’t all you brainwashed pukes just leave. Try living in Venezuala or Communist Cuba, or any other Communist rat hole. You all would be damn glad to sing the national anthem, and might even understAnd what it meant! It is jerks like you who voted radical Communist Barack Obama and the radical Marxist Democratic Party into power. You had better enjoy what little freedom we still have left, because it is fast disappearing! So don’t worry, you soon won’t have to sing (or respect) our national anthem. The ACLU will probably succeed in having it banned, and I’m sure all of you (and Barack), will be just fine with that. Get a life (and preferably another country) fools!

  • Salahuddeen Abdul Kareem

    Here we go again. I remember what happened to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf when he had his incident regarding the National Anthem. However, in this instance, it seems like things have been toned down. Mahmoud, a devout Muslim, was attacked by the media for not standing during the National Anthem. The media did all it could to ruin his NBA career. The commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, welcomed and applauded media pressure against Mahmoud because the pro-Israeli lobby in this country which he supports wanted Mahmoud out of the league. Consequently, Mahmoud was unfairly treated and blackballed by the league. When it comes to Roy, things are a little different. I do hope this young man continues to live by his principles. If he feels like saying a private prayer while the National Anthem is being sung or played, wonderful. For too long, being a good American citizen has been portrayed as “following the crowd.” Fortunately, people like Mahmoud, Roy, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, John Carlos, and others followed their hearts and minds. Today, we need more people like Roy. We need people who will express their healthy thoughts and behaviors in an open and honest manner. Good luck Roy and best wishes.

    Stay true to your heart and conscience!