May 2, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) celebrates after sinking a shot during the second half of game two in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers at FedEx Forum. Memphis won 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
Over at Rant Sports, Trisity Miller put together a good read about the Top 5 players in Memphis Grizzlies' history. The arguments are well laid out, but I have to wonder whether or not the top spot honors might be misplaced.
Miller argues that Pau Gasol is the best player in Grizzlies history, saying that "without Pau, Memphis would have never been the team it is today." Yes. And no. Without Pau, we never would have gotten Marc Gasol. True. But I would argue that the Grit and Grind mentality came in the post-Pau era. In fact, for a long time the book on the Grizzlies was that they were a softer, even more finesse team. Gasol never actually showed a G-n-G mentality; at least not with the Grizzlies. But, that's not where the argument gains or loses its validity -- and I'm in no way asserting that there is no validity to this claim, mind you.
I just have to wonder that, yes, while Gasol really was the face of our franchise for six-and-a-half seasons, the lack of playoff success is really what makes me think that the pendulum now swings in Zach Randolph's favor. The Grizzlies would not have gotten into the playoffs in '04, '05 and '06 if it weren't for Gasol, but to come out empty handed, not having won a single game... Yikes.
On the flip-side, Randolph had moments in the 2011 playoffs where he put the team on his back and lead them to victory. I mean, Game 6 against the Spurs, he scored 31 points in a game where the rest of the team seemed ill-prepared to close the series out -- it was win and advance, or lose and play Game 7 in San Antonio. Randolph was not going to let this series get back to San Antonio, and he elevated his game to a level that we really never saw Gasol get to.
I have no real beef with anyone making the argument that Pau Gasol is the "greatest Grizzly." I just don't happen to agree with that, though I will accept that the discussion starts and stops with Gasol and Randolph. I just think that what Randolph has done, and continues to do, for this franchise means much more that what Gasol attempted to do. Playoff victories are important, and so to is giving your fan-base a reason to believe that you're a title-contending team. And that's what Randolph -- not by himself, I know -- had done with taking the Grizzlies into a Game 7 victory away from being in the Western Conference Finals in 2011. With Gasol, we were simply hoping for a playoff win. Now, anything short of a series win is considered a failure, and that's in big part thanks to Randolph and his franchise-changing season in 2010-11.
What do you guys think? Better franchise player: Pau Gasol or Zach Randolph?