Flashback 2003. NBA Playoffs First Round. Portland Trailblazers Vs Dallas Mavericks. Zach Randolph’s Grandest Day as a Cub.
Down 0-3. A bloated vessel of expense and luxury tax purgatory is about to burst. Medic, we need a medic in here! The Portland Trailblazers are about to go down in history as another failed experiment of glorified excess. A team put together during the ‘name’ bubble about to burst into oblivion. No more barren appraisals of Pippin’s time with the Bulls for a world called now. In the inaugural year of the first round seven-game series, we are to witness a merciless sweep by the Dallas Mavericks.
Portland Oregon is desperate for answers. The patient is dying on the table and there’s no end to the bleeding. Years of fan investment swirling down a clogged hair-filled drain of despair. There is no pride here.
The Blazers decide to look outside, and jettison the starting lineup to the scrap heap. The lineup can no longer herald placebos, they need remedies. The public is afraid. Frightened of the unknown. A serum codename ZBO is dispensed off the bench and into their hearts. Zach Randolph becomes the new starting forward for a team on the brink of devastation.
Win #1 arrives, the patient battling to survive to the tune of 25 points and 15 rebounds. ZBO is spreading my friends! The behemoth collection of lost talents rally around the young cub. Blazers down 3-1.
Win#2 hits, as Randolph pulls down 9 rebounds to go with his 22 points. History in the making. The Mavericks become shaky with agitation like a boy on engagement night. Fearing not being able to close. Blazers down 3-2.
Win#3 busts in, Randolph scores 21 points and grabs 10 rebounds. For the first time, an NBA team has an opportunity to come back from being down 0-3 to winning the series. The Mavericks strong-armed into facing looming public humiliation.
Game 7 comes and Game 7 goes. Reality hits. Cinema fades. Randolph manages 14 points and 10 rebounds, but the Mavericks just manage to best the Blazers.
Zach Randolph however, becomes a superstar this series for the rest of his career. A series mostly forgotten in the trials of time by the public. This was one of the greatest NBA playoff battles of all time. A group of rebels and outlaws ready to pounce on league history. They came this close to edging out the Mavericks by the help of one singular change, one injection, one ZBO.
A series to be celebrated, a day when the losers lost the battle but won the war. It’s because of this very series Zach Randolph stopped being buried on the bench. The day he was given a chance to show he has more than just the tools to be an NBA caliber player. Rather an NBA superstar.
There would be no Randolph/Gasol tandem if Randolph didn’t experience this brush with victory as a young cub. His page would be annulled in the libraries of time. No Western Conference Finals appearance for the Memphis Grizzlies. No triumphant victories versus the Clippers and Thunder.
The pageantry of Zach Randolph’s storied career began with a coronation at the Portland Trailblazers/Dallas Mavericks 2003 first round series.