The Memphis Grizzlies pulled off a stunner by beating the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was only the fourth time in history that an eight seed knocked off a one, and only the second time since the first round expanded to a best of seven. The undeniable star for Memphis was Zach Randolph who scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Randolph has taken his game to a new level with Memphis and even become a player who shares the ball. Throughout his career he was known as a player who could put up big numbers but couldn’t win. He was also considered a selfish player who never passed. After the Game 6 win over San Antonio, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins addressed Randolph’s development.
“Zach has grown since he’s been here,” Hollins said. “I’ve known Zach since before he got here and I’ve always admired how hard he played. He’s gotten a bad rap for as everybody says ‘a blackhole’ but I don’t think anybody could be more of a black hole than Kevin McHale when he played. But he’s learned how to play with his teammates, he’s made some awesome passes, teams just can’t go and double him and think he won’t pass the ball.”
Initially I had no idea why Hollins made the reference and figured he was taking an unnecessary shot at a rival from his playing days. But after our friend Joe_Pa on twitter told us about one of McHale’s old nicknames, it all made sense. McHale was called The Black Hole by some of his teammates because he was a ballhog. His offensive philosophy was “If there are three guys on me, shoot. If there are four guys on me, pass.”
That sure sounds like the way Randolph used to be, but it’s hard to call him a Black Hole anymore. Randolph has proven throughout the season and series that he can be a leader. Whether he can keep it up throughout the playoffs remains to be seen, but just leading the Grizzlies to their first playoff series victory in franchise history is a darn good start.Google+