January 27th, 2018, is a day that every Oklahoma City Thunder fan, especially Andre Roberson, will remember forever. It clearly altered the career of one of the league’s best defenders, and some could argue the trajectory of one of its 30 NBA franchises.
The OKC Thunder were hitting their stride, things were finally clicking between Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony, and Andre Roberson was the glue holding it together with his defensive prowess. Unfortunately, when Roberson went down in Detriot, it sent the season into a bit of a tailspin that they never recovered from, which left them bounced in the first round of the NBA playoffs by Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz.
Former Oklahoma City Thunder defensive star Andre Roberson is attempting to make an NBA comeback in his stint with the OKC Blue.
Andre Roberson did not play another NBA basketball game until August of 2020 in the NBA’s COVID bubble after that 2018 injury. He would go on to play just 12 NBA games since January of 2018, with the last coming in March of 2021 when he was inked to a ten-day stint with the Brooklyn Nets to join up with former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. Now, Roberson is back playing professionally in the NBA G-League.
Today, Andre Roberson returned to the Paycom Center for the first time since January 25th, 2018. “A lot has changed!” he exclaimed with a warm smile.
While Roberson did not play in Saturday’s contest against the Stockton Kings, you could tell just how much this moment meant to him. As he walked into the media room, greeted by myself and one other media member, he took the time to shake our hands, even feeling the backdrop with the Blue logo.
“Taking it all in, man,” he told me, “it was nostalgic, it was pretty cool, at the same time, a lot has changed like the locker room and all that. It was good to see everybody and step back on that court again,” he explained to me on being back on the Paycom Center floor.
A month ago, Andre Roberson was just a practice player with the OKC Blue, and at the time, head coach Kameron Woods told me the two had not discussed a reunion; what changed? “Just taking it a day at a time, man. I did not have any expectations coming in, but I wanted to give my all, see what I can do, and go out there and see what I got…see where the good lord takes me.”
When asked if this is just a transition role into becoming a coach or front office member, or if this was an attempt at an NBA comeback, Roberson retorted, “I wouldn’t step on the court if I wanted to do that [Be a front office member or coach]” with a chuckle “every time I step on the court I want to play at the highest level.”
“It is a progression, can not just go from [no minutes to a lot of minutes] right away,” Andre Roberson explained when detailing his minute restriction in an attempt to make sure the veteran does not end up back on the sidelines.
Andre Roberson is a valuable addition to this young OKC Blue team that has seen a lot of Thunder players shuffle in and out of the rotation and practices; Roberson, what has stood out about this core is “their willingness to learn, their selflessness…I love that.”
Head coach Kameron Woods explained. The veteran forward is on a minute restriction. “I mean, he is available; he is on the roster. Certainly, when the opportunity presents itself, I have no problem throwing him in; we saw that in the last game. The majority of that will be when it makes sense for both sides…He has had a minute restriction just because it has been away since he has played, but he came out [of last game] unscathed, so I am assuming he will be full go here.”
Second-year big man Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who is playing for the OKC Blue on a rehab assignment talked about Andre Roberson “He has had a crazy journey, a crazy ride. He is a great person first and foremost. Him getting back in the swing of things is a great sight to see, and it is a lot of fun to be around.”
This comeback attempt means a lot to the Colorado product, even if an NBA deal never materializes. Andre Roberson is the kind of guy you have to root for.