Upon first processing the news of Zach Randolph and Vince Carter departing Memphis to head west and reconnect with Dave Joerger in Sacramento, my reaction was one of bewilderment and anger.
I was angry that Randolph and Carter aren’t going to finish their careers on Beale Street.
I was angry that they will probably finish their careers with a perpetual dumpster fire of a franchise.
I was bewildered that they would rejoin Joerger after all of the rifts which occurred on his watch while he was with the Grizzlies. I thought that both men deserve better than that.
Upon further reflection, though, Randolph and Carter teaming up for one last hoorah in Sacramento might be for the best. I’m not talking about the best thing for the players, Grizzlies, or even the Kings specifically. I mean it might just flat out be the best thing for the NBA.
Randolph and Carter both are joining a young franchise, and in their time with the Grizzlies took a relatively raw piece of clay and sculpted it. They gave it an outline, ridges, and curvature. They gave it a defined shape, a culture if you will. Memphis basketball will never be the same in large part because of what Randolph and to a lesser (but still very meaningful) extent Carter instilled in the men and women who are part of the franchise as well as every fan who just happens to have a tangential relationship to the team. They left Memphis better than they found it, and that’s what they will do in Sacramento.
Randolph will teach the plethora of young bigs in Sacramento grit, toughness, positioning, and footwork. But most of all, he will teach his new teammates how to conduct oneself within the community by giving back and fully engrossing oneself in the native culture.
Carter will teach adaptability, the ins and outs of daily NBA life, savvy off ball movement, and making oneself valuable in new ways. But most of all, he will teach his teammates in Sacramento how to behave like a consummate professional regardless of the obstacles that will be faced. You don’t get an $8 million contract at age 40 without being a pro’s pro.
While it stings a little bit in a selfish way that another franchise gets to experience the magic of Randolph and Carter, this league will be a better place with even more men taking the court on a nightly basis after undergoing rigorous tutoring by two of the best. And if there’s one thing the NBA could always stand to have more of, it’s guys like Zach Randolph and Vince Carter.