Feb 20, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) and Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (right) reacat at the end of the game at the Air Canada Centre. Memphis defeated Toronto 88-82. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Randolph: The Ultimate Transformation Story

The Zach Randolph Transformation

In the wake of the Grizzlies re-signing arguably their most important player, I feel that it is only fair to recognize Zach Randolph for the transformation story that he is.  I hope that in recounting how I personally felt about Z-Bo through the years I will be able to paint a picture of just what he has become.

I have to admit, when Z-Bo first came into the league, he was far from my favorite. Being a key cog in the team known as the “Jailblazers” isn’t exactly something one aspires for. It seemed that Z-Bo was tagged as being a headcase for a while throughout the league, but that readily appeared to change upon his arrival in Memphis.

Randolph became nothing short of a model citizen, as he put his nose to the grindstone and helped give the Grizzlies the “Grit and Grind” moniker. The team went from 24 wins the previous season to 40 upon Z-Bo’s arrival. Their record would continue to improve and stay well above .500 the next four seasons, making the playoffs each year. It was clear that number 50 had a tremendously positive effect on the Grizz.

The winning and all that were great, but I think what really ignited my bromance with Z-Bo was what he was doing off the court. He did community work, like many NBA players, which was fantastic, but there were two particular stories that really hit close to home.

The first of which involved him giving away his jersey to an adoring fan:

It was just a simple act, but I think that it really showed just how far he has come as a person. If this isn’t an example of someone maturing into one of the most caring people in the NBA, then I don’t know what is.

That didn’t do it for you? Wasn’t enough to make you believe that Z-Bo is one of the best guys in the NBA? Well try this on for size:

I grew up with a brother who has autism and I have worked with children with special needs for a long time. Let me tell you, it takes a special person to be able to do what Z-Bo does. Taking time out of his day to meet with these kids, even for a second, means the world to them. There aren’t many players, let alone people, that publicly model compassion like Z-Bo does.

To clarify: I’m not trying to paint the picture that Z-Bo is perfect, because I’m well aware he isn’t. But when you look at where he started in the league, and where he is now, it’s a pretty spectacular transformation. It’s players like Z-Bo that make me enjoy sports on a completely different level . Basketball is a fantastic game, but when the off the court stories transcend the game itself, we can appreciate it that much more.

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