Okay, my turn to reminisce on Grizz days and players gone by.
For fairly obvious reasons, I was tempted to make this post “Why I Miss . . . Gilbert Arenas.” And as I look back on that earlier blog post that planted the seed for Arenas coming to Beale Street, I realize that I could copy and paste that piece right here and it would still be true: Arenas (in theory) = veteran backup PG + 3 point threat + scoring punch. Those are all things the Grizz could still use, and I’m a bit disappointed that Agent X won’t be launching for the Bears this season. Of course, the Grizz have taken measures to address all three of those concerns this offseason so . . .
Then again, facts are facts: Arenas wasn’t around long enough really for anybody to get attached to, so it’s a bit tough to miss him. And apparently, his time here was unremarkable enough that there was nary a peep about bringing him back.
But Bo Outlaw on the other hand? Remember him?
I first fell in love with Bo Outlaw’s game back in the last lockout back in 1999. Ah, those glory years — Doc Rivers was a rookie coach with Orlando, and would eventually win Coach of the Year for coaching a scrappy underdog team of nobodies (Darrell Armstrong was the marquee name. DARRELL ARMSTRONG.) to a .500 record, just barely missing the playoffs. That team is still fondly remembered as the “Heart & Hustle” team, and if you’d put them in Beale St. Blue, you would have essentially had “Grit & Grind.”
If the diminutive Darrell Armstrong was the heart of Heart & Hustle, the Bo Outlaw was the hustle. Before Penny Hardaway was traded to Phoenix, Armstrong and Outlaw would lead the Magic’s second unit into the game, and you knew what was coming next — these two guys would be running all over the court, diving after balls, drawing charges, whatever. I mean RELENTLESS energy. The whole crowd got fired up because you knew that these guys weren’t going to mail it in, like some superstars. They were so all over the place, you couldn’t help but be pumped because they were so pumped.
The main thing that you had to love about Bo Outlaw was that the mechanics of his game were kinda awful. He was gangly. He didn’t run the court as much as he scrambled. His jump shot made Tony Allen look like Reggie Miller. His free throw made Shaq’s look like Ray Allen — his high point was 63%. And best of all, he knew all this. And that meant that the vast majority of his game was based sheerly on energy and effort. And boy, did he bring that every night.
Bo was with the Grizzlies for exactly one season. And it was the season that counted, the season when Memphis first became truly smitten with the home team. Bo Outlaw was a key part of Hubieball, that second unit that would come in and scramble the game up during the 50-win season. A lot of the stuff he did for the team were intangibles, but just as he had in Orlando, there he was — diving on the court, recovering for a vicious blocked shot, snatching a key rebound, deflecting to a breaking Earl Watson. Just the way he played would hype the crowd . . . which would in turn hype the team, giving that Hubieball squad that extra gear that helped win many a game that year.
Who is the nearest player we have to that now? I’d have to say that goes to Darrell Arthur. That end-to-end play of the 2011 Playoffs, when Darrell blocked a shot at one end and raced back down court to slam an alley oop from Greivis? That play blew the roof off FedEx Forum. And it’s EXACTLY the kind of play Bo Outlaw would have made at the Pyramid.
If you loved Hubieball, you loved Bo Outlaw’s relentless energy and effort. And that’s why I miss him.