Certain players around the NBA have not entirely undeserved reputations as bad apples. For many years, Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph was one of those guys, based on several gun-related charges and various examples of a lack of maturity while playing for teams that included the Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks.
In recent years, though, Z-Bo's stellar play for the Grizzlies has burnished his reputation into something a little more attractive to the casual fan. Randolph hasn't been a model citizen in that time — an arrest for an alleged role as a massive marijuana supplier and a party gone very wrong have been in the news — but there's at least an acknowledgment that he's not all bad all the time.
Within the last month, Z-Bo has shown his best side while taking care of a rescued pit bull in Memphis. The official NBA YouTube page produced a video (available above), and Scott Carroll of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has more details:
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph followed close behind as a wary young pit bull was carried out of the Memphis Animal Services Shelter on Friday. Uncurling from the arms of an animal services employee, the dog was placed in a crate bound for New Orleans' Villalobos Rescue Center, a veterinary facility specializing in pit bull care. [...]
"It's remarkable that he's still alive," Randolph later said of the stray pooch.
The dog was found July 9 in a drainpipe near the Shelby Farms Green Line trail at Waring Road -- scared, weak and suffering from heartworms and several skin infections. MAS officials said he had been trapped there for several days. After hearing about the dog and contacting Villalobos' owner Tia Torres, whose work is the subject of Animal Planet's "Pit Bulls and Parolees" reality TV show, Randolph said Friday that he donated $10,000 to the center to cover Little Z-Bo's continued physical and emotional rehabilitation, and will give more if needed.
The breed is close to Randolph's heart, he said. "I've got eight or nine of them, and I breed them and sell pups," he said. "And I take them to shows." [...]
"The pit bulls have a bad reputation currently ... as being a fighter. And that's because that's what they are trained by some people to do," he said.
Saving one pit bull is obviously a drop in the ocean when it comes to solving the world's problems, or even those afflicting dogs, but we still must congratulate Randolph for his actions in this case. It'll be good for his reputation, of course, but it's also an issue dear to his heart.
Also, I think we can agree that Little Z-Bo is one of the best names for a dog possible. Hopefully he will make a friend named "Little Marc Gasol" in New Orleans, and they can dominate the paint of dog basketball games for the foreseeable future.