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Abrams: A Look At Former Blazers F Zach Randolph

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Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Randolph is profiled by Jonathan Abrams Grantland.

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com has a detailed profile of Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, who began his career with the Portland Trail Blazers. Thanks to YoniRap in the FanShots for getting there first.

A few excerpts...

[GM Bob] Whitsitt believed they could develop Randolph the same way they had developed O'Neal right out of high school. They knew how to take baby steps developing, well, a baby. That's what the stewardess on the team's charter flight always called him, anyway. Sometimes, he even seemed younger than that - Randolph once asked 14-year veteran Steve Kerr when the team would be off for Christmas break. He also was repeatedly fined for not meeting his rookie weight requirement.

...

Darnell Valentine spent four-plus years with the Blazers in the 1980s and later became their director of player programs, making him almost overqualified to counsel young Z-Bo. He remembers Randolph frustrated by a city that, culturally, was "a little bit of a challenge for Zach. In Portland, when you're a 6'9" guy walking around, it's hard to hide. During that period when Zach was with Portland, it was kind of like Clint Eastwood: the good, the bad, and the ugly. They live and they die by their basketball. You live in a glass house. As a basketball player in this community, there's nowhere that you can go that's unnoticed. At the time, I don't think Zach understood the level of scrutiny and how passionate people were about how he represented this community."

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These days, Randolph praises Portland as a city, respects the team's fans, and even has nice things to say about owner Paul Allen. He also believes the police and certain media members held a grudge against him. "They don't take well to young, black urban kids coming out, having came from nothing," Randolph said. "You come to Portland with braids, come with cornrows, people can't relate to that. They peg you a different way and look at you a different way. If a guy's got braids, he's a thug."

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter