The online sports magazine Grantland is making a habit of finding former Trail Blazers to tell stories about how miserable they were in Portland.
In May, the ESPN-owned long-form journalism site revealed that former Blazers center Greg Oden “pretty much became an alcoholic” during his time here.
Now writer Jonathan Abrams talks to Memphis Grizzlies power forward and iconic Jail Blazer Zach Randolph, who essentially says the Portland police and media are racists.
“They don’t take well to young, black urban kids coming out, having came from nothing,” Randolph says. “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.”
In case you've forgotten: Randolph’s Portland rap sheet includes a 2003 arrest for DUII after a police officer smelled marijuana in his car, and a 2006 drag-racing incident on Southwest Broadway at 3:15 am. As recently as last year, a man was beaten with a pool cue in Randolph's West Linn mansion in a drug deal gone wrong.
The Grantland profile is a stroll down Jail Blazers memory lane, with cameos by John Canzano (still moralizing!) and Bob Whitsitt (still rationalizing!). By far the most level-headed guy in the piece is former Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire, who advised Randolph to stop visiting Oregon and his "Hoop Family" friends, and who offers the following analysis of playing in Portland:
Unfortunately for people in the spotlight, you play your faults out on the public stage. When you're the only show in town, there are always going to be people that have an opinion. Portland is no different. The people embraced the basketball side the entire time. But they also held you accountable with what you did off the floor with your actions. Zach was guilty like we were all guilty at one point or another in Portland.
Not in the mood for perspective and maturity? There's also a section about the time Randolph was sued by an exotic dancer for sexual assault, then chose T-Pain's "I'm 'n Luv (Wit a Stripper)" as his Rose Garden warm-up song.