This article originally appeared in the February/March 2011 issue of
Kevin: This is a tough one, but you have to give the edge to Zach Randolph. The proof is in the team’s record. The season before he got to the Bluff City, the Grizzlies were 24-58. After he got here, they improved to 40-42 and almost made the playoffs.
Marcus: Yes, Z-Bo gave the team some much needed inside scoring and people in the city love him. But Gay is the guy that makes the team go and he is the guy fans pay to see. Also, I am not sure if you have noticed, but other teams have started game planning for Rudy. Z-Bo is a great player, but teams are willing to let him beat them. They are not going to let Rudy beat them. And sometimes he still does.
Kevin: In only his second season with the Grizzlies, Randolph has earned a spot on the All-Star team, had more 20-20 games than anyone else in franchise history, and just became the second player ever in a Grizzlies uniform to win Western Conference Player of the Week. If Rudy is as valuable as Z-Bo, where are his records and awards?
Marcus: Rudy hasn’t won Western Conference Player of the Week because of politics. He is not one of the most well known players in the league. Not because of his lack of skill, but because of where he plays. Before Z-Bo got to Memphis, he was already known from his time in Portland. The national press, whether good or bad, has helped Randolph. Don’t get me wrong, Z-Bo’s work on the court has proven he is a great player, but Rudy is the player more teams fear.
Kevin: You must be referring to the video of the Raptors fan who went ballistic and screamed out every curse word in the book when Rudy was allowed to take the final shot at the end of the game earlier this season in Toronto. That guy really feared Gay.
Marcus: Right. Rudy is clutch. For the first time ever in Grizzlies history, there is no disputing who should take the last shot at the end of a game. And you have to realize that Rudy has really stepped up his play in all aspects of the game. Gay leads the team in scoring, steals and blocks. He is second in assists and third in rebounds.
Kevin: Rudy also leads the team in Dos Equis commercial spoofs.
Marcus: Yea, he does. I am disappointed that Zach and Rudy rarely pass the ball to each other. I am not sure if that is by design or if the two just don’t like to play off each other. If the Grizzlies played inside-out ball with Z-Bo and Rudy, they would be a more consistent team. If they did that, they could both be All-Stars.
Kevin: Can you really blame Rudy and Z-Bo for how this team operates? Shouldn’t that be on the coach? Two years of mediocre performances by an otherwise talented team in a depleted Western Conference should put to rest the idea that Lionel Hollins can be a head coach in the NBA.
Marcus: It would not surprise me if Hollins is coaching to keep his job next season.
Kevin: I hope Dr. Phil gets the first post-firing interview with Hollins, so we can finally get to the bottom of all his anger issues.
Marcus: I think you need to let Hollins yell at you at a press conference, and then the two of you would become best friends.
Kevin: So you are saying Hollins is best friends with Jarvis Greer?
Marcus: No. But they should be. Jarvo is the biggest Grizzlies fan in town. He was here before Hollins and will be here after. More people in this city know who Jarvo is than Hollins.
Kevin: Haha. Good point. I bet if Jarvis was the coach of the Grizzlies, they wouldn’t have lost twice this season to New Jersey.
Marcus: Not sure about his coaching skills. But I will take your word on it. As far as this debate is concerned, it must be pointed out that Rudy and Z-Bo are both great players with the skills and desire to win. If the Grizzlies miss the playoffs this season, it will not be because of them.
Written by Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter.
Photos by Chase Gustafson.
Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host the award-winning Memphisport Live every Saturday from 11:00am – 1:00 pm on Sports56 WHBQ. Listen anytime at memphisport.net.