Saturday, March 24, 2007

Zach Randolph : grieving takes on many forms

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Monday: Zach Randolph is granted bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his girlfriend's cousin, in Marion, Indiana.
Tuesday: Randolph is seen at strip club Exotica late in the night, having a few drinks and sampling the usual offerings of the club.
Friday: The Blazers' Assistant GM Kevin Pritchard releases a press statement. The general premise being that the team will deal with any matters internally and that certain aspects of player performance do not need to be discussed in the media. He added that "At the end of the season we'll sit down with each one of our players and review their performance, including their standing in the community."
Further news emerged from within the Blazers that Zach was on his way to the airport, catching a red-eye home to Marion for the funeral and stopped into the club to kill some time.
Enough media hype has been made over the last half-decade about the "Jail Blazers" and their reported infractions. There are two takes that can be made on this incident.
Firstly, private life is private. It should be that simple. Zach was in a state of grieving and possibly he felt at his most comfortable visiting somewhere he was familiar with on his way to the airport. Perhaps he made a poor choice at a difficult time. Whether a strip club is the the choice that all of us would make is a separate issue -- ignoring the fact that we are unaware of his long-term girlfriend's view of him visiting such establishments. The view that many would take (no doubt including Zach himself) is that his forrays into strip clubs are his business. Criticise and critique his on-court performance all you want, but leave his personal life in the domain to which it belongs.
In reality, we know that the lives of celebrities -- including sports stars -- are anything but private. Increasingly so with the push of the internet, information on the state of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria's relationship, the financial health of Scottie Pippen and which strip club Zach Randolph visited are becoming public domain. Zach knows this all too well. We saw the controversy in the pre-season that surrounded Z-Bo merely for being "involved" with a sex scandal. He doesn't need any lessons on what type of situations he needs to steer clear of. For Zach to become a leader on the Blazers in more than just the statistical sense, he needs to start making smarter decisions.
There's only so long that we can keep labelling Randolph's decisions as young mistakes.

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