Let’s give the veterans a hand. They’ve certainly changed the dynamic of a young, timid team. And they don’t mind being viewed as veteran leaders of the club.
They’ve certainly changed the dynamic of a young, timid team. And they don’t mind being viewed as veteran leaders of the club.
Professional years in basketball make a team difference, and this season it has made for a world of difference for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Labeled as one of the youngest teams in the NBA, the Grizzlies’ addition of veteran leadership has served to help get the best out of the youth, yielding a team that can hold its own against any other in the NBA on a given night.
Nine-year NBA veteran Zach Randolph was a force for Grizzlies against San Antonio, particularly in the fourth quarter. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)
Tony Allen, who had five steals against the Spurs, eyes another opportunity.
Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins said the team has battled all year long.
“To have veterans that have been there like Tony (Allen), Leon Powe, Shane (Battier) and even J-Will (Jason Williams), even though he’s not playing, helps,” Hollins said.
“Those guys have been there. They understand what it takes and keep poised. Even if our young players get rattled, we have guys that are telling them, ‘Get your head back in it, don’t worry about it, do this, do that.’ Those are the type of things that keep your ball club solid.”
Zach Randolph brings nine years to the table and is one of the top forwards in the league. In the fourth quarter, he scored 11 points, all in the final five minutes, and left the floor with 23 points.
Grizz fans clearly love vets who deliver. They chanted Allen’s name in unison during the final minute of the game, and rightly so. Allen, who joined the team this year with six seasons and an NBA championship under his belt, scored 23 points and recorded five steals.
And when second-year man Sam Young went down with a right ankle sprain near the end of the first half, another veteran – Shane Battier – stepped up, big time.
Allen, who exudes confidence, offers a picture of the team that also reflects the mark of a veteran, especially who has been a winner.
“It is bigger than just me,” said Allen.
“It is my team and what we are trying to accomplish together. I just like the fact that my teammates are supportive of me on both sides of the court.”