Zach Randolph has been much maligned throughout most of his career. He entered the League with Portland during the heart of the Jailblazers era alongside the likes of neighborly good Samaritans such as Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Qyntel Woods and Ruben Patterson. Probably worse still, he then wound up in New York, playing for a Knicks franchise that Isiah Thomas was ruining, Stephon Marbury was ridiculing and Eddy Curry was covering in maple syrup.
From the standpoint of trying to develop into a mature millionaire in your 20s, there probably wasn’t a worse environment to find yourself in. Twice. The resulting stain to his reputation hasn’t — and probably never will — leave him. That’s unfortunate because while he was a selfish playe, a bit of a malcontent and an alleged part-time felon in his early years, he has really matured since he landed in Memphis in 2009.
And, of course, he remains one of the most unstoppable offensive forces in this league. A walking 20/10, he has gotten even better with age, posting closer to 21 points and 12 boards over the past two years. This season, he even eclipsed 50% for the first time since his second season, during which he had a much smaller role on his team.
Last night we witnessed the culmination of all this re-branding and improvement as the low-block marvel took his talents behind the three-point line to hit a game-winning triple and give the Memphis Grizzlies franchise their first-ever home win in the Playoffs. Given Zach’s career 27.6% shooting percentage from deep, this was very surprising. And to those of us familiar with some of his work from behind the arc, both in Los Angeles and New York, it was stunning.
Now the worst Playoff team in the Western Conference improbably has a 2 games to 1 lead on the mighty, savvy Spurs and are looking to become only the fourth #8 seed to knock off a #1.
Matt Moore broke it down nicely for NBC. Read that.
And more importantly, watch Z-Bo celebrate the biggest shot he has hit in years — and perhaps ever — by dancing to “All I Do Is Win.”
The Grizzlies fans really enjoyed it as well, chanting the big lug’s name throughout the arena on their way home.