Zach Randolph had 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies' Game 1 upset against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Playoffs on Sunday, and apparently, that was enough to convince the Memphis brain trust that he's worth a long-term investment. A $66 million investment over four years, to be exact.
Like the surfer conquering a tidal wave, Chris Wallace clearly doesn't care about the odds.
But aside from the fundamental irony of a "Memphis brain trust" involving Wallace and Michael Heisley, let's all just take a big step back and admire the sheer insanity of giving that much guaranteed money to the man we affectionately call Z-Bo. No sarcasm; really, truly... Admire this.
We're less than a year removed from last summer, when Z-Bo was accused of bankrolling an Indianapolis drug operation, and then, a day later, sued for his involvement in a strip club brawl. And as outstanding as he's been throughout his time in Memphis—not just Sunday, but for the past two seasons, when he's been one of the best low-post scorers in the league—Zach Randolph's still the guy who inspired this profile, two years ago:
... Randolph, who was officially acquired by the Grizzlies on Friday, could be such a commanding presence, a 6-9, 260-pound dynamo with quick feet and soft hands ... one of which he balled into a fist to smash teammate Ruben Patterson's face at practice in April 2003.
He could be so charming and affable, generous enough to spend some time with children at a Christmas function that December ... even though he appeared intoxicated and was charged that night with driving under the influence after police smelled marijuana in his car.
He could be so competitive on the court ... and on the streets of Portland, where police cited him for drag racing with friends at 3:15 a.m. in June 2006.
Because nothing screams "Z-BOOOOO" quite like showing up drunk to a children's Christmas party. So, what could go wrong if you guaranteed a player like that 70 million over the next few years?
But then, that's just the point! Nobody even expected him or the Grizzlies to come this far. And for all the twists and turns in the Z-Bo narrative, nothing's been more improbable than Sunday, when he dominated Tim Duncan in an NBA playoff game. And if you're running the Grizzlies—who've already pinned their hopes on Tony Allen, ridiculous contracts to Mike Conley and Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and two years of Zach Randolph—why not go with what got you here? In some strange way, it's all kind of impressive.
With that in mind... Vaya con Dios, Chris Wallace. Vaya con Dios.