January 27th, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Oklahoma City Thunder had dominated the Detroit Pistons from jump, leading them 91-66 with under 5 minutes left in the 3rd.
The Thunder ran a transition play that they had run thousands of times before, where Russell Westbrook would drive in towards the rim from one side, and Andre Roberson would cut baseline from the opposite side; normally resulting in an alley oop.
Russ probably thought that’s what was going to happen and he dribbled towards the rim, and floated a lob (which upon review was dripping in swag) to Dre. The only difference this time is as Dre went to plant, his leg gave out.
It went down in the stat book as a turnover for Russ, “bad pass” as the note next to it says. But it turned out that play would be more detrimental then a late game turnover in a blow out game.
That game, more than 2 calendar years ago, was the last time Andre Roberson played in an NBA game.
Fast forward to Thunder Media Day of this season. Dre is upbeat, confident, borderline cocky. Saying things like, “I’m full go.”, and “People have been a little too happy I’m not out there to guard them.”
This enthralled many Thunder fans (myself included), as we awaited to see Dre take the court in practice, preseason, anything…. but that moment never came.
The season went on, and with each passing clutch, comeback victory we pushed the notion of Andre Roberson back further age further from our minds. We, as a fan base… forgot about Dre.
Then, Coronavirus happened.
Our chance of claiming the 4 seed in the West, our 50 win pace, and the season as a whole were all placed to a screeching halt.
While little good came, or has come from COVID-19, it did give Andre Roberson the chance he needed to finish the final stages of his rehab and do the unthinkable. After more than 2 years of not playing basketball, all signs point to the official return of Andre Roberson.
Just like it did at the beginning of the season, except…. it’s vastly different this time. Instead of Dre saying things that make us think he is coming back, it’s his teammates and head coach Billy Donovan that are filling our heads with hope.
Starting with Luguentz Dort who declared before the team even departed for Orlando, “he looks good, he looks ready to go.” After the team arrived in Orlando, Danilo Gallinari saw Dort’s good, and raised him to “He looks great.” Chris Paul said, “Playing with Dre is the best thing ever.” (Quite the statement there Christopher). Best friend and fellow 2013 draftee Steven Adams said, “He is in good spirits, it’s good to see him chipper.” Hamidou Diallo said, “His leadership is big.”
As the quotes from each teammate started to pile up, so did the excitement, the anticipation, and the hope of the Thunder fan base.
“Could Dre really play?” “How close is he to his peak?” “How much could he help us?” “What’s this mean for our ceiling?”
Questions that Thunder nation were fairly asking themselves, until Dennis Schröder confirmed what we all had speculated, “He’s still got it. He can help us out A LOT.”
With that, there isn’t a thing anyone else could say to a us as a fan base. Andre Roberson is going to propel the Thunder to a title.
Ok, obviously I’m kidding (a little) but it seems like all signs point to yes for “Will Dre contribute?” question. And the quotes didn’t stop rolling in.
Devon Hall started with the familiar “he looks good” but added “he looks CONFIDENT, he looks READY TO PLAY. He is ON A ROLL.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with some of the highest praise, “Dre is the smartest defensive player that I have ever seen.”
You take all these quotes that make you ready to run through a wall, and add in the fact that, according to head coach Billy Donovan he has been a full participant of every practice (practices in which they have “been going hard”), and for the Thunder’s first scrimmage in the bubble tomorrow, EVERYONE is available.
The jury is still out on how much Dre will play, contribute, or how much he truly has in him but time will tell.
Oh and this quote from Abdel Nader should help you get ready for Dre’s return as well, “He’s shooting the ball better than he’s ever shot.”
I’m trying not to overreact, cause that’s another article for another day. But we seem to have forgotten about Dre along the way, I’m looking forward to refreshing my memory when he takes the court for the Thunder once again.