I was less than kind to Zach Randolph when he joined the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2008.
Though he routinely put up lines of 20 & 10, Randolph personified everything I didn't like about stat hogs. Once he got the ball on the block, he couldn't be bothered to scan the floor for teammates or make the extra pass. Though I consider myself a fairly level-headed guy not prone to scapegoating or piling on, Randolph was too convenient a target -- for his playing style, his conditioning, his behavior away from the floor, everything really.
As much as disliked Randolph's game, I resented him even more for provoking a vindictive strain in my voice. Not only did Randolph bring out the worst in his teams -- he brought out the worst in me!
When the Clippers dealt Randolph to Memphis last summer, I rejoiced.
Then the improbable happened.
Randolph spent the summer getting into shape and showed up in Memphis committed to playing a winning brand of basketball. Though he's still dominating defenders in the post, his game has grown. He's a willing passer and will move off the block to draw his defender away from the paint so Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo can do their thing. He even occasionally defends!
Randolph has reminded me of something I too often forget:
Players can grow up, even as vets.
So it's time to come clean. I owe Z-Bo a big ol' apology for all those nasty things I wrote: