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Farewell, Rudy Gay

A Passionate Fan's Formal Farewell to Number 22.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Surely you all know by now, the Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi to the Toronto Raptors last night as part of a three-team deal that will bring them Toronto forward Ed Davis, Detroit forwards Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye, and a second-round draft pick. The NBA world blew up for a couple hours and is still trying to figure out ways to respond.

We know that Lionel Hollins wasn't too happy about the deal. Just 19 days ago, Hollins expressed his desire to keep the core Memphis squad together and continue to give them the place where they can mature and become a better team.

Twitter exploded, and three very memorable tweets were sent out via the interwebs to paint a picture of the way three players are reacted -- two of them Grizzlies, the other an opponent.

Yahoo! Sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski says the Grizzlies made a huge mistake. Mike Prada, our very own SB Nation celebrity, wrote the Grizzlies made out like bandits. Mark Deeks over at a personal favorite TheBasketballJones podcast says nobody won or lost the trade, while here at Straight Outta Vancouver (at the time of writing this article) over half of readers think the trade "makes the team better."

Opinions range all over the board, and there hasn't even been a minute of basketball played for any of the players involved. If you don't believe me, ask this guy.

I'm not out to write another opinion piece grading the trade. As fun as it is for me to do, I'm not going to research sabermetrics on how Prince or Davis is going to fit in Memphis' offense, or why/why not Rudy Gay is going to help the Toronto Raptors. I'm merely here to say goodbye.

Dear Rudy,

I became a Memphis Grizzlies fan seven years ago. When I arrived to the world of Grit and Grind, you were here waiting for me, averaging over 20 points a game on 46% shooting. Man, you were great. I expected Mike Conley to get you the ball as often as he could. You were the face of the franchise and did a fantastic job making the Grizzlies relevant in a new-NBA city confused with their basketball identity.

Throughout the years, as the core developed around you, I have to admit: I grew a bit frustrated from time to time. You took some shots you shouldn't have taken. Same games you shot way too much. Others you shot way too little. But because Coach Hollins stuck by you, so did I.

You were the most interesting man in the NBA, so, of course I'm going to stick with you.

Only when I look back I truly see how great your role was in helping to develop the trademark core of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley. You were a leader on and off the court.

Naturally, I was devastated when you hurt your shoulder before the playoffs in 2011. Like any other notable sporting event, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got the text message. "Rudy Gay, shoulder, out indefinitely." It was February. We were in the playoff hunt. I thought we were goners.

But we weren't. We succeeded. And the entire time, there you were, every game, cheering on your guys. They noticed your leadership and commitment to the team and the fans. You traveled with the team throughout the postseason and endured an experience on watching us play in the Playoffs that undoubtedly will be a sour spot in your memories for a long time.

We did well without you on the court. Really well. We got to Game 7 of the Western Conference SemiFinals. Somebody posed the question: could we survive without you? That's when things got scary. Were we giving you too much money? Were we giving you too much credit? Michael Heisley put all the rumors to rest when he insisted you weren't going to be traded. I believed him.

You came back fully healed from your injury seven months later to a locked-out league with an itching to play some basketball.

So what did you do? You decided to call over LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Tyreke Evans to host a charity basketball game for the city? Thanks for that. You scared the owners a bit into when you showed how capable players were at "running their own basketball business" while also giving us writers, not to mention the city, something to talk about.

The lockout ended, and we quickly realized you weren't the same after the surgery. But we all held on. Coach Hollins held on. Things got pretty ugly in the 2012 playoffs and have stayed that way ever since. I'll be the first to say it: you have been the subject of much scrutiny the past couple months. 17 points per game isn't 19.5. You've been shooting 5% less than at any point in your career.

The Pera Era of ownership rolled in, committed to making Memphis basketball something flashy and on the front page. Justin Timberlake. Peyton Manning. It was only a matter of time before our new owners were hit with the same question. What are they going to do with Rudy Gay?

I think you let this get to you. We began seeing you look more and more exhausted on the court. Some said you lacked effort. I didn't want this to be true, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't see it. If the sports media contributed to that in any way, I'm sorry. I'll be the first to confess I said some things I shouldn't have said.

Then, as the season went into November, it was my turn to feel exhausted. Numerous trade rumors involving you floated around the league. Los Angeles. Chicago. Detroit. Toronto. Charlotte. I was glued to the rumors when they began breaking, but grew more and more exhausted myself and realized nothing was gonna happen.

I think I was exhausted of confronting the emotions that came with the idea of you leaving Memphis. Sure, there was a lot in your game you probably weren't happy about, but Rudy Gay leaving Memphis? No way that'll happen. In my eyes, you were the Grizzlies. You belonged in blue and gold.

Was I okay for feeling that? I don't know. It's sometimes hard for me to separate emotions from sport. Players are human beings, and sports fans on sports blogs are often the first ones to forget that. But we grow attached to guys like you. If you leave, it's a sign we're growing older. Your leaving is a sign our sport our team is changing. Who isn't afraid of change?

On the morning of January 31st, it was weird now realizing the trade has actually happened. I woke up this morning to a different logo on your player page. I can't say I'm entirely excited about that - which shocks me, seeing that I dug through your numbers to prove why you weren't a 2013 All-Star.

I don't really want to think about all the basketball stats that are going to change with you gone and Tayshaun Prince on the court. I don't want to look at Wins Above Replacement for Memphis. I don't want to look at the organization's financial changes and luxury tax dealings. Fans and writers disagree on all that stuff and there will be plenty of time to talk about that. For now, lets all unite on one front: it's going to be weird seeing you in another jersey.

Thanks for helping me fall more in love with this team and the sport of basketball. Thanks for helping me fall more in love with the art of writing. You've done more for us than any of us will credit you for doing. I truly and honestly wish you the best in Toronto. Maybe one day we'll look back and say, "Crap. Kendrick Perkins was right."


Marcus Privitt

Marcus Privitt has been a contributing editor to Straight Outta Vancouver for nearly two years. He's currently a full-time student passionate for writing about things bigger than himself, sports, and sports writing. Follow him on Twitter or shoot him an email at if you want to talk sports, spirituality, or a little bit of both.