It finally happen. Rudy Gay has been traded, getting Memphis under the luxury tax, and making them more flexible financially. Gay started his career in Memphis and was the longest tenured Grizzlies player on the team. He was the face of the franchise, holding the all-time record for games played (479) and minutes played (17338) as a member of the Grizzlies. However, he was not living up to his max contract, and with Memphis on the verge of having to pay a luxury tax he had to be dealt.There is no more speculation about where he will go, or talk about how he is not living up to his max contract. Gay gave fans several great moments, and now that he is gone, we should all take a step back and reflect on the good times Gay has given the fans on the court.
With the NBA lockout in full force, Gay found a way to give fans some of the professional basketball action that they so desperately craved. He put on a charity game highlighted by NBA superstars Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Tyreke Evans, with all proceeds going to his Flight 22 Foundation. Gay’s team lost 158-151, but he led all scorers with 45 points and countless jaw dropping dunks. It might not have been a NBA game, but the fact he was able to bring his superstar buddies to Memphis showed how much he cared about the community, and it certainly gave us a very memorable moment.
The “Make your own luck” game
His headband curse is infamous. It seems like every time Gay wears one, he plays poorly. However, on January 23, 2012, after trainers poked fun at him for his performance while wearing a headband, Gay decided to wear one against the Golden State Warriors. The Grizzlies were down by 20 points with 3:43 left in the third quarter, and the Warriors were supposed to cruise to a big win. Yet that is not what happened, thanks in part to Gay’s performance. He led the team with 23 points (19 in the second half), and when Memphis needed a bucket to ice the game, Gay connected on a beautiful fade-away jump shot with just 22 seconds left in the game. He did more than just score that night, he was a play maker and a facilitator. It was one of those nights where he looked like a max player, as he helped lead a furious comeback to get a solid victory for Memphis. Then after the game, with a grin on his face, he showed us that infectious charisma of his and uttered quite possibly the most famous words of his life, “Kids out there, make your own luck.”
“No not this guy!” shot against the Raptors
It is ironic that one of Gay’s most memorable moments has come against the team that he is now a member. The score was 98-98 with just 18.1 seconds left the game with Gay inbounding the ball, which is all very routine. He hits Mike Conley, gets a down screen from Marc Gasol, and catches the Conley pass at the top of the key, which is still very routine. With time dwindling on the game clock Gay takes two dribbles to his right, elevates, and hits his patented jumper with almost no time left, which is still part of the routine. That shot is his go to move, his length makes it difficult to contest, and the Raptors should have expected it. So why is this very routine shot against the lowly Raptors one of Gay’s most memorable moments?
Well unbeknownst to Gay, the Raptors, or any of us there was a fan recording the final seconds of the game. When Gay touches the ball, you can hear the panic, fear, and general displeasure in the fan’s voice, “No it’s Rudy Gay! Not this Guy! Not this guy,” as Gay hits the game winning jump shot. The fan’s reaction is hilarious (Watch the NSFW video), and it is a moment that will live on forever in Grizzlies lore.
41 point game
On December 13, 2009 Gay scored 40 plus points for the first and only time in his career, setting a career high in points against the Heat. He was unstoppable, hitting 15-28 shots from the field and 3-4 from three. Memphis was a remarkable plus 35 points with him on the court, as he literally had his way the Heat. It was one of those games where Gay showed why he was becoming one of the NBA’s top up and coming young talents, and why it might be worth paying big bucks to keep him. Memphis did just that, signing him to a max deal, but he just never lived up to his contract and he is now a member of the Toronto Raptors.
Game winner over Lebron James
Another game winner tops the list of most memorable Gay moments. This time it comes against one of the best players in the NBA, Lebron James. After James tied the game thanks to a Gay turnover, it seemed like the contest was going into overtime. There was just 5.5 seconds left on the clock, and momentum was strictly in the Heat’s favor. It was a tough night for Gay, who James had effectively took out of the game on the offensive end. Before the game winning shot, Gay was just 4-12 from the field and 0-3 from behind the arch. However, that did not deter him, and with the game on the line Gay rose up over James and hit the game winner as time expired. It was a good day to be Gay and a good day for Grizzlies fans everywhere.
CJ Hurt covers NBA basketball for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games.
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