The best is yet to come for Brandon
When Terrell Brandon announced that he was going to have a retirement ceremony, I'm sure some people wondered why. I mean, the injuries set in for good a couple seasons ago. You can't play in the NBA, particularly with a normal-sized body, when your knees, your back and just about every other moving part no longer work smoothly.
Brandon is only 33, but his body retired from professional basketball at 31. So why the ceremony? Well, if you know the man and his family, it's obvious.
He just wanted to say thanks.
Can you imagine? A professional athlete who wanted to get the important people in his life and career together in a humble ceremony in that office building he built on Northeast Alberta Street, just to tell them how much they have meant to him.
He thanked pals from school days. His high school coach, John Stilwell. His sister. Family friends. His pastor. Employees at his business. His agent, Bill Duffy. Even the media, for goodness' sake. Most of all, he thanked his wonderful parents, Charlotte and Charles, who had so much to do with helping him become the man he is.
'My dad first saw me in my uniform with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he asked me to turn around,' Terrell said Tuesday, in what was often a tearful presentation. 'He pointed to my name on the back of the uniform and said, 'You play for the team on the front, but first, you represent the name on the back.' '
And make no mistake, Charles and Charlotte, that name means something in Portland. It stands for so much.
Soft-spoken, respectful and giving, Terrell Brandon is an important figure here. An inspiration. Dare we say it Ñ a role model? Not blessed with a Rasheed Wallace-sized NBA body, he made himself into a pro player, a first-round draft pick and a player whom Sports Illustrated once touted on its cover as 'The best point guard in the NBA.'
He did it the only way he could Ñ through hard work and dedication. Along the way he was a two-time All-Star and, in 1997, he won the NBA Sportsmanship Award. As good a player as he was, he's been an even better person.
He recognizes now that he was one of the lucky ones. He had a lot of encouragement and guidance.
'I had parents who loved each other and loved us,' he says. 'They worked hard. They lived their lives the right way. And then they came home every night and slept in the same room. They were there for us. They taught us. Not everyone is that lucky.'
The basketball career may be over, but I believe more meaningful things are ahead for Brandon. His family and his neighborhood are more important to him than ever. He will live here and expand his businesses. The free basketball clinics for all those local kids will continue.
Brandon has charisma Ñ a special kind of charm to go with leadership skills and a big heart. I think he's going to be successful in whatever he chooses to do and may end up having a bigger impact on people now than when he played basketball.
What I want to say to Terrell is: Thanks for saying thanks. And thanks for reminding me that there are still athletes out there who get it. Athletes who understand their potential for good in their community.
Charlotte and Charles, thank you, too. That little kid of yours has done us all proud.