Thursday, August 13, 2009
New Contract, No New Pressure
For some, the burden of expectations can be debilitating, and nothing seems to increase expectations like money. You can go from scrappy overachiever, the everyman, the blue-collar crowd-pleaser, to lazy ne’er-do-well simply by signing a new contract, even if your on-court production remains the same. There’s something lovable about the guy who averages five points and three rebounds a game if he’s making the league minimum, but the same guy making $5 million a season is a pariah.
So signing on that dotted line can be tricky for a ballplayer. That’s not to say anyone in the history of the NBA has turned down extra cash out of fear of being dubbed as overpaid. Heck, some players seem to go out of their way to prove they’ve got no business making as much money as they do, but for those with the slightest bit of pride or integrity, mailing it in once the ink on the contract is dry isn’t an option.
And for some, living up to that contract can amount to a gang of pressure. After all, if you weren’t trying your hardest when you were making $3 million a season, but now feel like you should because you’re making $13 million, that’s likely going to cause some anxiety. But if you’re like Brandon Roy, a player who has been giving his all while making rookie scale, you don’t have to worry about the weight of that big money burden.
“I signed a contract but I don’t feel any added pressure,” said Roy. “I feel the pressure of helping this team get back. I’m not going to do it alone; I need every single one of those guys in the locker room to continue to improve and help me just as well as I can help them.”
Notice Roy didn’t say he doesn’t feel pressure; just that the pressure he feels doesn’t stem from signing a lucrative contract. Though his play would sometimes indicate otherwise, Brandon Roy is, in fact, human. He feels the burden. He’s felt it since the first time he put on a Trail Blazers uniform, but it’s neither increased nor decreased because of the number of digits on his paycheck.
“From the moment I came to this team and I won Rookie Of The Year and I came back and I’m like ‘Man KP, this is a lot of pressure,’” said Roy. “We traded Zach (Randolph) and I’m like ‘Wow, I’ve got to do this myself?’ and the first thing him and Nate said was ‘No, you’ve got a team of guys. You’ve got an organization that is going to try to make sure that this team is successful.’ It’s no different with this contract.”
It might not be any different for Roy, but hopefully the same can be said for his teammates. It’s one thing to ignore the expectations of fans brought on by max money, but it’s entirely different, and I would argue more difficult, to overcome ex-expectations from within the locker room. Seems like an unlikely scenario with this group of players, but Roy is ready to address the issue if need be.
“I’m going to continue to let (my teammates) know that we’re only going to do this together,” said Roy. “I can’t do this alone. I can get all the money in the world and that doesn’t make us a championship team. A team does.”