Ever since I began hearing rumblings about Rudy Gay dissing Memphis and his former team, I’ve been scouring the interwebs looking to see the quotes for myself.
Why? Because as a former newspaper reporter myself, I know that sometimes, a quote can be taken out of context. A lot of that comes with the limitations of the written word — reading a quote, you can’t see the person’s facial expressions, can’t hear the tone of their voice, can’t read the body language. That’s why I think Lionel Hollins’ remarks both pre-trade and post-trade have often been mistaken for him griping, complaining and whining. Often, I’ve been standing right in front of him while he’s talking to reporters, giving them the quotes that will appear in the next day’s paper. I’m listening to him, so I know when he’s cracking a joke, baiting another reporter, etc. But by the time it hits the paper, all you get is the quote.
Back to Rudy. Having covered the team now since last spring, and getting a chance to talk with all the players including Rudy, I was just as shocked as Tony Allen was when I heard that Rudy said he missed “nothing” about Memphis. I’m certainly not on Rudy’s speed dial, but I’ve been around him enough to know that quote was either wrong or misinterpreted.
So I’m glad that Ron Tillery wrote today’s Commercial Appeal interview with Gay as a Q & A — read for yourself Rudy’s full quotes, where he explains any earlier comments. For instance, him expanding on missing “nothing” about Memphis:
Yeah. I said ‘nothing’ because I was mad. Think about it. If you’re somebody who has done so much in that community and in that city and then out of nowhere just get thrown away, you’d be mad too. Shoot. That’s where I lived. Obviously, there’s stuff I miss about it. I miss my house. I miss the people. I was mad. But I’m thankful for everybody who helped me there and I love the people there. To the organization … this year, I can’t have any pity for the organization because of how they handled the trade. The city? Yeah, I miss it. Hopefully I still have fans there. There are people there who were great to me. David Porter has been a mentor to me since I got there. There are people in Memphis I definitely miss.
“I was mad.” And Rudy was mad because he was hurt. He was hurt because he felt he’d earned better treatment from the organization. As much as we put these players up on pedestals, it’s actually a bit of a relief to know they have feelings too. Sometimes, when upset, they say things they don’t really mean. And so like we would for anybody else we care about, we need to cut Rudy some slack for speaking out of anger.
When reports surfaced that Gay was happy to leave town and that friction with Randolph was part of his reported discontent while in Memphis, Gay received a text message from his upset former teammate.
“He texted me and was like, ‘Man, I can’t believe you would say this stuff about me,’ and I didn’t know what he was talking about,” Gay said. “I hit him back, and was like, ‘Yo, no matter what was said, that never came out of my mouth.’ I never talked bad (about him) and I never will, because he’s taught me so much about being consistent and about being out there every day. I learned a lot from Zach.
“Obviously on the court sometimes, and you see it with everybody, you’ll go at it or talk or have a difference of opinion. But as far as Zach, he’s always been a great teammate. He’s always been giving. If you need anything, you can ask Zach, and in return it was the same way. I never had a problem with Zach. Zach was always my boy. (The reports are) just crazy. I can’t believe that. It’s like, you’ve been with somebody so long and you’re trying to ruin something that you built for so long.”
Remove the emotions and the hurt feelings. Boil down the facts and here they are:
- Rudy Gay did quite a bit to get the franchise where it is today, and nobody can take that away — nor should they try. He’s earned that.
- Rudy Gay received franchise-player money, but often didn’t perform to that level.
- He generally had grown to have a great relationship with his Grizzlies teammates, especially going from loser to contender.
- Both teams likely got better as a result of the trade.
- Beloved players are routinely traded without hearing about it beforehand. This is not new.
- Traded players — often with hurt feelings — say things about their former franchise. This is also not new.
- Traded players also tend to talk glowingly about their new opportunities with their new team. Think about it: How would you feel if Tayshaun Prince had busted out saying, “Damn. Joe Dumars must have really hated me to trade me to Memphis.” What else is Rudy supposed to say about looking forward to his new team (which, by the way, sounds very Lionel Hollins-esque).
So the main thing to me is to respect what Rudy did for the Memphis Grizzlies. Sure he’s on another team now. Sure you’ll cheer against him when the Raptors come to town. But just like Pau Gasol before him, Rudy has done nothing to earn the hatred of Grizzlies’ fans. Despite hurt feelings after a breakup, it is possible to move on without without hating your ex.