Foye stays true to himself

  • April 14, 2012 - 10:53 PM

Six years later, Randy Foye now starts beside Chris Paul on a Clippers team threatening to prove there's another springtime team in Los Angeles, while the All-Star with whom he'll always be linked is sitting home, retired already from basketball at age 27 because of bad knees.

Foye doesn't hear those constant comparisons to Brandon Roy anymore, even if he credits their rhyming surnames partly with making him the productive NBA player he has become.

He has moved on twice now from those days with the Timberwolves, when Minnesota fans wondered why, oh why their team didn't keep Roy on draft night 2006 instead of trading him for that guy named Foye.

"I know it was in comparison, but I think it got personal at times, too," he says now. "It just seemed like if I was hitting, it was, '"Fourth-Quarter Foye," yay, we're happy!' But if I didn't have a good game, it was like, 'You should have kept Roy, why did you keep Foye like that?' Even though people didn't say it directly to me, you hear it. I have Google alerts on my cell, so you get it."

The Wolves took Roy sixth in 2006 and quickly traded him to Portland via Boston for the rights to seventh pick Foye and a chunk of Blazers billionaire owner Paul Allen's cash. The Wolves preferred Foye because of what boss Kevin McHale called his "juice," his perseverance through a hard-knock childhood and because their doctors red-flagged Roy's worrisome knees. Allen's money didn't hurt any, either.

Roy became Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star while Foye's promising rookie season alongside Kevin Garnett quickly regressed because of a sophomore-season knee injury and a work environment that crumbled when Garnett was traded away.

"I understand the whole Foye-Roy thing, I didn't ask to be selected there," he said. "I worked my butt off. I had a great college career. Whatever happened, happened. It just seemed like I was hated because of someone else's success. If I hadn't gotten hurt, I would have been right up there, playing my butt off helping the Wolves become a contender. It didn't happen. It seemed like people turned on me after my second year.

"I loved being in Minnesota. Minnesota was great to me. The people outside of basketball were great to me. But at the same time I was frustrated for being blamed for something I couldn't control."

In essence, he became the poster child for all of McHale's wrong managerial moves until new boss David Kahn quickly traded him and Mike Miller in June 2009 for a draft pick Kahn used to select Ricky Rubio.

"I was out there pushing and playing and my knee was still hurting because I wanted to bring excitement back to the city," he said, "and I was doing it for the people around me, the people who drafted me and believed in me. I didn't want to hear the Foye-Roy thing no more, either.

"It seemed like those three years went slow, but looking back, it made me so much mentally stronger, made me so much tougher, where my skin is thick now. Anything anyone says now, it doesn't matter. I work every single day, not to prove anyone wrong or prove anyone right. But I work every single day to prove to myself for my situation, my family and my life. I believe in God and things like that. I feel like nothing can break me."

And so, Foye plays on now, responsible more than a little for the Clippers' 10-2 record in their past 12 games, while Roy retired, at least for now, in December. The two became friends while they waited together for 40 minutes on draft night in a little room with three team ballcaps -- Boston, Portland, Minnesota -- set out while their futures were determined.

"That hurt me to my heart, you know," he said about the day Roy retired. "The Foye-Roy stuff, that was probably one of my saddest days in basketball, for him and because I wanted to compete against him, play against him. Let this go down in history so we could look back on our careers and see. I don't know what my destiny is yet, but I wanted there to be something great between us, where we were battling in the playoffs every year, me and him.

"It's just sad it didn't end up like that."

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