Forget that the San Antonio Spurs has had a phenomenal year, propelling them into the pinnacle of the Western Division. At one point, they were even tagged Most Likely to Win a Title, in a season where Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami all hail.
Because if anything, when all is said and done, it’s the Memphis Grizzlies’ first-round upset of the Spurs we will remember best. Who best to acknowledge that other than Zach Randolph? His performance in the playoffs has been nothing short of beastly.
Even more beastly than your average Grizzly, in fact. Where Randolph scored 25 or more, Memphis has won games of the series. And where he only scored 11, Memphis lost two games to the Spurs. The team most definitely looks to him for defense, but with Rudy Gay out, his scoring is just as essential to them now.
Memphis is currently on a bid to go past Oklahoma City in the 2nd round, and they’re three winning games away from doing so. Randolph finished Game 1 with 34 points and 10 boards to upset the Thunder on a night Durant himself made 33 and 11.
But then again, who’s to blame Randolph for playing like an unchained hoops carnivore? An NBA veteran of 10 years, Randolph has been contained on teams that aren’t playoff-bound; save for his first two seasons, where he only played a total of 8 playoff games in Portland.
Losses and appalling on court antics pretty much derailed his rise to prominence, but debuting on a Memphis team full of upstarts and rookies gave Randolph the leadership and maturity he may not initially deserve, but most certainly needed.
Since Memphis, Zach’s NBA career has been rock-solid, if not impressive. Randolph would make his first All-Star appearance under the Grizzlies banner in 2010, even finishing behind Dwight Howard in rebound averages last season. A year later, and he’s bringing them to the playoffs.
We’ve yet to see how far Memphis will go with their uncharted run, and we believe the right thing to do would be to let them see for themselves. Reflecting on Randolph himself, the Grizzlies are looking for respect, recognition, and a return to eminence.