Coming in at number seven in our “Greatest Grizzlies” rankings is a guy that many Memphis Grizzlies fans have forgotten about.
In ode to the late Bill Nunn who played the character “Radio Raheem” in the Spike Lee joint “Do The Right Thing,” I figure we start this thing off right by borrowing the moniker for another legacy of the ’90’s, The Grizzlies own Julius Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
“Radio” Rahim as we will refer to him as, doesn’t get a lot of mentioning nearly two decades removed from being a Grizzly. Understandably so being he was the piece used to bring in three of the greatest Memphis Grizzlies of all time in Shane Battier (who was later flipped for Rudy Gay), the late Lorenzen Wright & Pau Gasol (who was later flipped for Marc Gasol). Rahim, if nothing else deserves this salute for being the gift that kept on giving even after his departure.
Shareef’s Grizzly Stats:
Rahim came out the draft getting buckets as he averaged 18.7 points per game his rookie season as a very undersized PF in an NBA that at the time featured Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, Karl Malone & Charles Barkley at power forward to name a few. Somehow some way Rahim not only delivered major buckets, but also averaged seven rebounds a game. Now if my memory serves me correctly, that’s right on par with All-Star production at his position and Shareef managed to do so on a team that didn’t have many options to distract defenses away from his 20 & 7 every night. That says a lot.
Some can argue that Rahim is not heralded because he consistently put up all star numbers, but always on bad teams. That’s a very intriguing common denominator to say the least. How can a guy who averaged 20 points per game for the next six seasons after his debut always end up on the short end of the stick?
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A legitimate counter argument can be that Julius played his first five seasons on an expansion team in the middle of the Jordan-Bulls’ Dynasty & the transition into the Kobe Shaq Lakers’ Dynasty, so if your team didn’t have at least 2 hall of Famers, & either “Phil The Lord Of The Rings” or “Pop,” forget about it. Also the instability within the franchises Shareef always landed with was average at best. If only players then took control of their future like today’s players, who knows?
Imagine Shareef in today’s NBA with his ability to start 3-5 as the ultimate stretch big. The skill, toughness, consistency and discipline Abdur-Rahim displayed throughout his career from day one is something any coach would have on their team, no matter how much he ended up on the loss column in his past. Shareef was borderline dominant in an era the league was stacked with dominant big men.
The trade that sent Abdur-Rahim packing was a match made in heaven. Meaning Rahim was getting shipped to his hometown of Atlanta. Then, the Memphis Grizzlies were getting their own home grown talent in return with Lorenzen Wright. Along with a future hall of fame big man in Pau Gasol. At the end of the day Shareef was one of the greatest players in Memphis Grizzlies franchise history on a per game stats basis, and will always be an All-time Grizzly great.