The Contradictory Case of Zach Randolph
As the old proverb goes, “Nothing is certain in life but death, taxes and Z-Bo getting in trouble.”
On Sunday afternoon, police executed a search warrant on his West Linn mansion after a Portland-area drug dealer, James Beasley, was allegedly beaten and bloodied with pool sticks by members of Randolph’s entourage—aka The Hoop Family—after a dispute over Beasley’s asking price for his weed.
As expected, Randolph wasn’t directly involved with the beating, but of course he was there and of course he didn’t stop it.
This latest Z-Bo incident sounds about right on so many levels and should come as a surprise to, um, no one.
For starters, Randolph obviously has a good grasp of the weed game. Just last year he was accused of “being a major marijuana supplier” in the Indianapolis area, even though charges were eventually dropped. So the dude obviously can spot a bad deal.
Now that doesn’t mean I’m condoning the act of beating up drug dealers, or really anybody, with pool sticks—because I’m not. I’m just saying maybe Beasley’s prices were a bit ridiculous, you know?
Going off that, why should anyone be all that surprised with Z-Bo’s latest run-in with the law? Oh, you were under the impression he changed because the city of Memphis embraced him and Z-Bo returned the favor with his work both on the court for the Grizzlies and in the community?
Just because he averaged 22 and 10 last postseason, donned a Santa cap last Christmas and paid the utility bills for a couple hundred needy Memphis families didn’t necessarily mean Randolph had grown up and put his troubles behind him. Really, it just means that he’s finally found an NBA home in Memphis, and that’s about it.
If you think about it, Memphis is a perfect match for Z-Bo, and vice versa. Memphis provides Z-Bo with a low-key environment where he can thrive, unlike the bright lights of his previous stops in L.A. and New York, or even Portland.
Those were cities and fanbases that tended to only focus on and magnify the bad things about Randolph both on the court and off. And he provided them with quite a few. Namely, his deficiencies as a passer and defender, his fat contract and sloppy physique and his numerous run-ins with trouble, which include, but are not limited to: breaking the eye socket of a teammate (and sex offender), multiple DUI arrests and a shooting incident.
Unlike the other cities, Memphis doesn’t care enough to magnify every negative that existed about Randolph, and they were more willing to give him an opportunity to display the many good things there are about both Z-Bo the ball player and Z-Bo the person.
Memphis saw a little of its blue collar, gritty self in Z-Bo. And like the city, Memphis understood that Z-Bo was schizophrenic with both the good and the bad. Z-Bo embraced that connection and rewarded it, hence his 20/12 season and contributions to the Memphis community.
All that is certainly positive stuff for Randolph, but was it really enough to suggest that Z-Bo was done being associated with trouble? Not really, if you think about.
Z-Bo is a lot of things on and off the court. On the court, he’s a tough, scrappy player and a double-double machine. He’s physical, he’s tough, and he understands how to use his body and frame probably more so than any big man in the game. He’s a superb rebounder. Given his limited athleticism, he probably makes the most of what he has to work with compared to any other player in the NBA.
However, he’s also known to be lazy, isn’t a great passer and an even more suspect defender. There’s both a good and bad side to Z-Bo the ball player, just like there’s both a good and bad side to Z-Bo the person.
Off the court, he can be a knucklehead and a troublemaker, or even a humanitarian. He might break your eye socket or finance a drug ring, or he might dress up as Santa Claus and hand out gifts to underprivileged kids.
You just never know when it comes to Z-Bo, and you probably never will because, above all, Z-Bo is loyal to a fault. The Hoop Family is always going to be a part of his life, which means that trouble is always going to be near him. He’s never going to be completely free of his past, and obviously he doesn’t want to be or he wouldn’t still be hanging out with these guys.
Now I’m not excusing his recent troubles with the law, even if he wasn’t the one actually beating the poor drug dealer with a pool stick. He still allegedly invited the guy over and he didn’t exactly stop the beating. He’s obviously at some fault in this latest incident.
I’m just saying that Z-Bo will always be Z-Bo, no matter what, when or where, and it’s naïve to think otherwise. He’s talented and grimy on the court and sometimes he’s just as grimy off it. To his credit, it’s not like he’s ever made himself out to be someone he’s not. He’s never put on a front and I honestly can’t recall him ever even saying he’s changed. (Can you?)
You just have to realize that the man, like the city, is schizophrenic with both good and bad qualities, and accept him for the contradiction he is and always will be. And don't be surprised when something like this happens again, because it will.
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