Friday night against the Suns, after missing 4 straight free throws, a chorus of boos echoed across FedEx Forum, directed towards veteran small forward Tayshaun Prince. As a disclaimer, let me first state, before I get into this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum, that this not an ethical discussion on whether or not fans should boo or have the right to boo. This also has very little to do with Tayshaun Prince’s production or recent lack thereof. This is solely an attempt — or better yet a plea — for fans to let things play out before making a final judgment on our players.
Tayshaun Prince, a seasoned veteran with a NBA championship, has had a long, rewarding career, but it doesn’t take much to see that he is a shell of his former self at this point. To say that he’s done or doesn’t have anything left in the tank is fair because we have seen a lengthy body of work that shows both his productive self as well as the very limited player that he has become today. We can compare the former player to the current player. But the other side of this is that you can’t properly give a verdict on a younger player until they have been given the same amount of time to see who they truly are. Am I saying that they need be a 10+ year vet before you can say whether they belong in the NBA or can help the Grizzlies? No, of course not, but it takes more than the time that we as fans often allow our players.
Nick Calathes is the latest victim of the short fuse connected to the explosive Grizz fans. His clear lack of ability to make open jump shots, hit free throws, or defend have been obvious. No one can look at what we’ve seen from him and confidently say that he should be given the keys to the team as the backup point guard for a team that has a goal of making the playoffs, but the way that fans have written him off as a failure seems awfully familiar to me. Over the years, I can recall several situations where players, coaches, and even front office members were met with instant criticism — and sometimes within a matter of a few games, goats have become fan favorites.
Mike Conley was disappointing as a rookie, and several fans felt he was being forced fed to us over Kyle Lowry, who was a fan favorite at the time because of his defense and hard-nosed style of play. Coach Lionel Hollins, whose hiring was also heavily criticized for not being a major name with credentials like Avery Johnson (someone the fans coveted at the time), ended up being the winningest coach in franchise history. Zach Randolph came over in a trade and was destroyed by local fans and radio hosts. He was labeled as a selfish thug, and now those same people say that the front office would be foolish to trade him away. When we signed Tony Allen, people said that he was only 6’4″ and that we needed a taller player to back up Rudy Gay, so we should have just kept Ronnie Brewer…until TA broke through with his all-out effort and Grit n’ Grind was born. Marc Gasol was Pau’s overweight little brother that we traded an All-Star away for and now we feverishly wait for his return, along with Quincy Pondexter, another player that didn’t show much initially after being traded in exchange for another fan favorite, Greivis Vasquez. Ed Davis, who was the key piece to the Rudy Gay trade, yes the same Rudy Gay that we didn’t want to trade Shane Battier for, was labeled as a player that needed to go to Summer League, but has since shown amazing potential. Chris Wallace was labeled as being a member of the worst front office in the NBA in Boston, and yet again, fans don’t want him to be a casualty to the new ownership group. These are all examples that played out in our favor, of players that bloomed and blossomed as members of the Memphis Grizzlies, but of course there are others that were given up on too early that had their best days on other teams.
Will Nick Calathes carry us on his back and have two consecutive 30-point games like Mike Conley? I doubt it ever happens in his career, but honestly who knows how his career will turn out? Will Jamaal Franklin live up to his billing as “The Grindson”? Maybe. Or maybe he will grind to a halt and fade out of the league. Will we like Courtney Lee and James Johnson as much as Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Gay? Who knows…we may like them even more. All that I’m really suggesting is to wait. Be patient. See how our players will pan out before you write them off. You never know what someone on our team may develop into. Trust me. We will have many more trades, many more free agent signings, and many more draft picks, so it’s best to let the story unfold before changing the station.
Stay tuned Grizz Nation!