The city of Memphis celebrated Independence Day quite early this year — not for any patriotic reason, but to rejoice over some Grizzlies news. Wednesday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a bomb that didn’t leave any damage, but instead left sunshine and rainbows in the city of Memphis. That’s right, the Memphis Grizzlies traded away Chandler Parsons and the rest of his $94M contract to Atlanta for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee — equally as unproductive and costly as the former.
Don’t get me wrong, it was another great move by Zach Kleiman and company. Trading Chandler Parsons without attaching future picks or young players as sweeteners is absolutely stellar; some people, like me, considered such thing impossible. However, King Kleiman did it again.
The city’s celebration was expected and reasonable, but it’s also one of those “hate to see it” kinds of things. There was a lot of ridicule at Parsons, and whether or not you agree with me, I don’t know how much of that was warranted either.
Yes, he ruffled some feathers going to C(h)ancun over the All-Star Break in his first season in Memphis. However, most players not participating in All-Star weekend go on vacation over the break. It’s no different than letting the college freshman with straight D’s and F’s go to Panama City Beach for Spring Break!
He liked to go out to the club. So what? Most young single people with — or without, on behalf of me and my friends — money go out, whether you like it or not.
He didn’t live up to his contract, but his body betrayed him. I’m no professional athlete, but the emotional toll that comes with recognizing that you’re the athlete or player you once were, especially in the prime of your career, has to be brutal. It’s something I don’t want to wish even on my least favorite athlete.
There were a lot of things he could’ve avoided to help himself out. He could’ve not told the media he’d treat home games like road ones if they were going to stay booing, and he could’ve not tweeted that he “already won the lottery.”
However, it seems a tad unfair for him to be the scapegoat for the Grizzlies shortcomings these past few seasons. Yes, a part of their fall from grace was because his contract hindered the team’s flexibility. On the other hand, the years of missed picks, coaching instability, and iffy trades aren’t on him. It’s just easier for the max-contract frat guy disguised as an NBA player to talk the fall.
In addition, the image the city has portrayed for Chandler Parsons is unjust as well. Even though people called him a “distraction,” there was never a locker room issue with him. In fact, he was considered a “locker room favorite.” Despite what his lifestyle suggests, he’s not some egotistical, prideful, womanizing jerk Memphis has painted him as. Behind all the social media posts of him out with Blake Griffin and a plethora of pretty women, he’s a genuine dude that just wanted to help his team win and to reconcile with a city.
To close this out — before you or someone else decides to berate me in the comments or on Twitter — I wanted to share a story with Parsons and how it affected my life.
In the summer of 2017, I attended a Chandler Parsons media availability at a Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) location, as he was there to surprise the campers. It was an important one, because this was the first time he’s spoken to the media since the end of the season and his last knee procedure.
After the media scrum, he went around to each member and caught up with them. He, then, goes over to me — someone who looked more like a camp counselor than a media member — and introduces himself, “hi, I’m Chandler.”
Like, yes, I know who you are, but it’s a nice gesture.
He notices I’m wearing an Ole Miss polo, and he sparks a conversation about Ole Miss and the city of Oxford for a few minutes.
Granted, you’re probably reading this and just thinking ok, cool? However, to me — a young person trying to see what heights he can reach in this profession — this was a cool moment I won’t forget, because it was my first off-record conversation with another player. And it was one I’ve been a fan of since he entered the league, and someone most people think is a self-absorbed pretty boy. This all happened, because Chandler was actually nice enough to talk to me.
The Chandler Parsons experiment didn’t work, and it sucks — it probably hurts me more than it hurts you. You may not like his social media or his lifestyle. Fine, and fair. However, don’t let this Memphis stint fool you. Even though he was never the versatile forward capable of being a 18-5-5 third fiddle next to Gasol and Conley, he was still a basketball player working his ass off to get right and to help his team win ball games.
And for a player whose career was derailed by injuries, that’s all you could really ask for. It’s truly one of those “don’t hate the player, hate the game” stories.
Though it wasn’t what it was, I send best wishes over to Atlanta and wherever else the rest of his career takes him.