Spurs likely first round matchup holds an unlikely role model
Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph has been many things throughout his NBA career. A Blazer, a Knick, a Grizzly. A Jail Blazer, a malcontent, and most recently an All-Star.
But a role model? From a player who can sleepwalk his way to 20 points and 10 rebounds and was still given away by a Portland team just on the slight chance he could give their then young core some wrong ideas. At the risk of making San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich cringe, young center DeJuan Blair has found a role model–and it’s not Malik Rose.
“[Randolph] is definitely a role model I look up to. Every time I get a chance I watch him,” Blair said. “He’s a double-double every night kind of guy. That’s what I want to be.”
But still, Zach Randolph?!
“He’s one of my favorite in the league. He’s not athletic but he works real hard to get what he needs to get,” Blair said. “I came to appreciate him after I saw him and played against him. He showed me a lot. I really didn’t look at him back then, but now I see him and watch a lot of his games.”
Behind Randolph, the Memphis Grizzlies have become a team deserving of a closer look, if only because Sunday’s home game might serve as a potential first round matchup for the San Antonio Spurs.
TheÂ Grizzlies are currently tied for the eighth seed with a Utah Jazz team that lost both their head coach and franchise player over the past few weeks, having made a deadline trade sending the former no. 2 overall pick to Houston for Shane Battier to help the team stay afloat while Rudy Gay recovers from injury over the next month.
Still, the San Antonio Spurs are not expecting an easy victory in either of the next two games–a home and away series with the Grizzlies. Particularly with Gary Neal ruled out for Sunday and Tiago Splitter listed as day-to-day.
“They always give us a hard time,” Matt Bonner said. “On a personal level, having to play against Zach Randolph is not fun. He’s a beast down low. We’re going to have our hands full these next few games.”
From a distance, Blair can watch the play of Randolph and hope to someday illicit similar responses. For now he can settle for simply trying to be consistent, nearly averaging a double-double for the month of February with 12 points and nine rebounds.
And if he picks up a trick or two from Randolph over the next two games? You could do a lot worse than a walking double-double.