Sunday, July 04, 2010

Rudy Gay: How to Earn $80 Million in 5 Seasons

Rudy Gay is about to ink a 5 year, $80 million contract with the Grizzlies.

We can talk about how Gay is being overpaid. About how he hasn't performed at that level in his career. About how he's unlikely to ever live up to his contract.

About how Heisley could have paid less. About how Heisley is repeating mistakes of the past. About how Heisley is unlikely to pay Marc Gasol, who has been better than Gay, or OJ Mayo, who might be better than Gay. About how Heisley clearly has no idea what he's doing.

And we will discuss these points. But what's the rush? We can rehash the latest edition of "Running the Worst Sports Franchise in Besides the Detroit Lions" next season, especially if the Grizzlies miss the playoffs as they have every season Gay has played.

Is this as close as Rudy gets to a star?

However, that's not what I want to talk about now. What I want to talk about now is how Gay can earn his salary.

It's not about his scoring average, his steals, blocks, or dunks. It has nothing to do with how he contributes to the communities of Memphis, Baltimore, or Haiti.

Earning his money also has nothing to do with his shaky 3 point shot, his ball handling, or his alleged ability to pass the ball to teammates.

It has to do with toughness and intensity. Rudy Gay can earn his contract by transforming the culture of this franchise from one of losing to one of winning with toughness and intensity.

Gay needs to be the guy leveling his friend Chris Paul when Paul tries to penetrate into the Grizzlies' paint. Gay must be the guy LeBron James is whining about to refs because Gay is pushing, pulling, and generally disrupting James for 48 minutes.

Kick his ass Rudy. Kick his ass like he just told you: "You ain't worth 80 million cause you never won anything".

When an opponent blows by OJ Mayo, or when Marc Gasol fails to play help defense, Gay should first look at Mayo and Gasol in disgust, and then yell at them during a timeout. And it should make sense because Gay didn't blow an assignment or take a break on defense.

When the referees call Hasheem Thabeet for his 5th foul for looking in Kobe Bryant's general direction, Gay had better be getting a technical before Kobe gets a chance to shoot a free throw. Even if Thabeet did foul him. And he probably did.

When the Grizzlies lose, Gay better be the guy throwing chairs in the locker room and stealing Geoff Calkins' pen.

Whether he deserves it or not, Gay was just awarded the burden of carrying the Memphis Grizzlies to respectability. He's going to battle with a 9-season legacy of losing, an owner who's doing his best to run the franchise into the ground, and a team that's badly under-staffed to challenge the league's best.

He's not going to succeed by sitting back and letting chips fall where the may. He's not going to succeed because he improved his jumpshot or added 10 pounds of muscle.

The only chance Gay has of succeeding establishing himself as toughest guy on the court leaving everything he's got on the floor every night. If Gay can pull it off, it will be $80 million well spent.