When “Star Spangled Banner” abstainer Shareef Abdur-Rahim left pro hoops in 2008, the news was greeted with a headline of “NBA Gravy Train Ends for Muslim Proselytizer Who Supports Cop Killers”.  Hopefullly, Blazers G Brandon Roy won’t receive nearly as much abuse, given that he just wants some peace and quiet.  From the Oregonian’s John Canzano :

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.

What would the fallout be if Roy’s teammates decided to join their leader in the tunnel? What if Roy weren’t from Seattle, but rather, from Spain, like Rudy Fernandez? What of respect, and heritage, and ceremony? What of team unity and leadership when the ball isn’t in your hands?

The Blazers are not together in the pre-game ceremony. It really became obvious on Monday before Portland’s victory over Chicago, when teammate LaMarcus Aldridge left the floor as well. Aldridge said Tuesday at practice that he “had to go to the bathroom” and it won’t happen again.

“I love America,” Aldridge said.