There wasn't much for Memphis Grizzlies fans to cheer for on Wednesday night. They watched the hometown team get smoked like brisket by the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-100, behind a huge night from Russell Westbrook (27 points on 12 shots, nine assists, six rebounds, two steals in 27 1/2 minutes). They knew the boys in white and blue were just about powerless to stop it, thanks to injuries keeping the likes of Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter and Ed Davis out of the lineup. All that OKC talent and all those missing Memphis pieces combined for what Marv Albert might call "extensive gar-bajj time" and the Grizzlies dipping back below .500.
There was, however, one brilliant and beautiful Memphis moment late in the game, thanks to Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph:
With Jamaal Franklin at the foul line, cameras caught Randolph leaving the Grizzlies bench; as it turns out, he was heading over to chat for a moment with a young fan sitting nearby. Not only did Z-Bo go say hi, though; when the fan pointed toward the big man's shooting shirt, Randolph immediately took it off and offered it up, providing a souvenir that we're sure the fan's family won't soon forget and sealing it with a big ol' thumb's up.
While we tend to think of Z-Bo as a bruising tough guy with a somewhat checkered past, he has established himself in Memphis as an extremely charitable sort, the kind of guy who will help pay in-need citizens' electric and heating bills, will give $10,000 to save and care for an injured pit bull, and routinely makes massive donations around the holidays. Like, for example, the generosity that earned him the NBA's Kia Community Assist Award for the month of November:
As a part of the NBA’s Season of Giving, Randolph distributed 900 Thanksgiving food baskets at Booker T. Washington High School and Hamilton High School in Memphis. At both events, select families received tickets from Randolph to attend an upcoming Grizzlies game. Randolph also donated 500 turkeys and 500 spiral hams to be given away to 1,000 people at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center in Marion, Ind. In addition to Thanksgiving meals, he contributed 300 winter coats to students at Memphis’ A.B. Hill Elementary.
“I love to give back to kids in need and from single-parent homes because I was one of those kids growing up, so I feel as though I can relate,” said Randolph. “It’s a blessing for me to be able to help someone else."
Before the game, Randolph received a plaque commemorating the award and recognizing his contributions. During the game, he showed that giving back can be about more than just writing a check. Big up yourself, Z-Bo.
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