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MavsFanFinley
08-31-2004, 06:08 PM
Faith on the fade

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
JASON QUICK

MARION, Ind. -- There used to be believers in this town, back in the day, back when Zach Randolph was just a kid.

In every direction there was either a flourishing cornfield or a prospering factory. Of the nine paper plate factories in the nation, five of them were in Marion. There also were plants that manufactured television picture tubes, bottles, cardboard boxes and automobile parts.

And the basketball team . . . oh, those Marion Giants. Seven state titles -- just one off the state record held by nearby Muncie Central -- not to mention so many other near-misses, such as the year Broadripple made a length-of-the-court shot at the buzzer to stun the favored Giants.

No state takes its high school basketball as seriously as Indiana, and no town takes it as seriously as Marion (pop. 31,000), perhaps to a fault, some residents say. Every year, there was a new can't-miss star, often anointed by media members as early as the fifth grade, who finally would don the purple and gold and give the basketball crazies (they are everywhere here) something to talk about.

It was last like this in 2000, when a once clumsy and awkward kid named Zach Randolph grew into his body, all 6-foot-9 of it, and led the Giants to state title number seven.

Now, everything has changed. There is little, if anything, to believe in -- even as the Chamber of Commerce attempts to boost morale with a "We Believe in Marion" slogan splashed all around town.

One by one, the factories started to close, until now, only the General Motors plant remains. It has led to a 17.6 percent unemployment rate, second-highest in Indiana and more than three times the national average.

And year by year, there seems to be another shady incident involving Randolph, their most heralded basketball star, seemingly adding insult to injury.

The latest is a possible criminal charge against Randolph for lying to police after, witnesses say, his younger brother, Roger, shot three men around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 22 in a nightclub in nearby Anderson, Ind.

Randolph, who witnesses say tried to restrain Roger while he was shooting into the crowd, then led him out of the nightclub, has told police three times he knew nothing of the incident. He will have a fourth chance Wednesday, when Randolph and his attorney meet with Madison County prosecutor Rodney Cummings.

"I'm expecting cooperation," Cummings said. "He needs to tell what he saw."

If Randolph again denies seeing anything, Cummings said he will pursue charges immediately. Cummings said he will either charge Randolph with giving false information to the police, a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by as much as one year in prison, or with assisting a criminal, a Class D felony, punishable by as much as three years in prison.

Randolph and his family declined to be interviewed for this story.

The people in Marion want to believe in Randolph. They believe in his heart, the one that has donated time and money to local kids programs. They believe in his spirit, the one that smiles with ease and thirsts for loving attention. And they believe in his determination, the one that worked to avenge the "experts" who touted other youths while he clumsily tried to adjust to his growing body. And the one who diligently worked on his troubling grades in order to stay on track for his goal of reaching the NBA.

But then again, how long does one believe? Their faith in the economy, believing that the next factory surely couldn't close, has gotten them here, investing their hopes in a billboard slogan.

And for as much as they believe in Randolph's heart, spirit and determination, they don't believe in his mind. They remember 1999, when during a glorious start to the season that had the town talking title, Randolph was kicked off the team after being convicted of selling and possessing stolen guns.

Two years earlier, he served 30 days house arrest for a battery conviction. And in 1995, he served 30 days in juvenile detention for shoplifting a pair of pants.

Some say that at 23, he has yet to mature. Others say he simply is naive. However, they all agree on this: The downfall of Zach Randolph is the crowd with which he chooses to associate.

"He needs to say 'I need help,' but he's not aware he has a problem," said Moe Smedley, Randolph's high school coach, who often picked up Randolph at home. "And the problem is he is hanging with the wrong people. I just don't want the day to come where I pick up that paper and it says he shot someone, or that he was shot. Every day that goes by that I don't see that, I feel good."

Headed to Milwaukee?

Two-thousand miles west, in Portland, the Trail Blazers organization also is struggling to believe.

After watching Randolph steadily progress in his first three seasons -- including last season, when he averaged 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds, earning him the NBA's Most Improved Player award -- the Blazers believe in Randolph's talent.

But the franchise is embarking on year two of its self-proclaimed "New Era," which included a much-publicized 25-point pledge to its fans that trumpeted a philosophy of valuing character over talent.

Randolph, clearly the most talented and promising player on the team, is in the last year of his contract, which is set to pay him $1.8 million this season. The Blazers have until Oct. 31 to offer an extension, which one month ago seemed like a sure bet.

But today, the Blazers have cooled considerably, to the point where their once-believed foundation of the future now is rumored in a trade sending Randolph, Derek Anderson and a 2005 draft pick to Milwaukee for Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Marcus Haislip.

Even though Zach Randolph didn't pull the trigger in the Anderson night club, the incident comes on the heels of his juvenile record in Marion and a tenure with the Blazers that includes a driving under the influence of intoxicants (marijuana) charge last December by Portland police, a conviction for underage drinking in Marion in 2002, and a two-game suspension in April 2003 by the team after he sucker-punched teammate Ruben Patterson, breaking Patterson's eye socket, during a practice.

General manager John Nash, who at one point this summer said he would like to sign Randolph to an extension, said last week that Randolph's involvement in the Anderson shooting didn't "sit well with what we are trying to achieve and accomplish in Portland."

But in the same breath, Nash can't escape his attachment to Randolph.

"I love the player and his ability, and I like the individual, because I truly believe he has a good heart," Nash said.

Now the question is, which Randolph do the Blazers believe in?

Not "a bad bone in him"

It was an awkward childhood for Randolph, who was diagnosed with ADD/HD, attention deficit disorder/hyperactive disorder. Coupled with an impoverished background -- his single mother, Mae, raised her four children on welfare -- and the racial overtones of a mostly white blue-collar community, Randolph was somewhat of an outcast, endearing him to a misfit collection of friends.

Soon, however, it became apparent that Randolph could play basketball, and by the fourth grade he was popular, winning kids over with his playfulness, and charming the teachers he tested with his smile and innocence.

"I liked him very, very much," said Laurie Kocher, his fourth-grade teacher. "I think he has a wonderful heart."

But that heart was hurt when his peers were given attention for their basketball skills, while he was criticized for his borderline grades and the rowdy crowd with which he associated.

"So many people put him down," Kocher said. "But he never stopped practicing."

His grade school teachers remarked how well he was raised by his mother, who always had her kids neatly groomed and respectful of authority. When Kocher said she was having a hard time keeping Randolph in line, Mae told her that she would threaten to take basketball away from Zach.

"And boy, did that kid get on the ball," Kocher said. "Mae was a wonderful, driving force for him."

But his friends, that was another story.

"I think he purposely chose bad friends," Kocher said. "He has always just loved living on the edge, he liked that excitement."

By 14, Randolph was caught stealing a pair of pants while he was with friends.

"I don't think the kid has a bad bone in him," said Jenny Maidenberg, his second-grade teacher. "But I think he may be too trusting. I don't think Zach thinks anyone is going to do something bad."

A struggling brother

At the center of Randolph's crowd is his brother, Roger, younger by one year.

There are some in Marion who say that Roger, a 6-foot-5 guard, was more talented than Zach in basketball. But there is no debate that Roger took a wrong turn growing up, starting around seventh grade.

"He really turned bad," Kocher said.

By high school, Roger was kicked off the basketball team, and his mother sent him to a boarding school in Pennsylvania. As Zach flourished in basketball, some theorize that Roger's inborn anger intensified out of jealousy.

"I think Zach tries to make it up to him now," Kocher said. "Whenever Zach comes back to town, he makes sure he takes Roger around."

That scenario turned ugly Aug. 22 when, police say, Roger opened fire on the dance floor of the notorious Sinbad's nightclub in Anderson. Cummings said that 15 to 20 murders have taken place over the years at the nightclub.

"Only bad things happen at that place," Cummings said. "The only thing that happens in that place is people get shot."

Three weeks before the shooting, on Aug. 1, Roger was arrested by Marion police after a routine traffic stop revealed he was carrying a handgun without a permit, in addition to possessing marijuana.

"He's a criminal," Smedley said. "But Zach is still running with Roger. Why? If Roger is put away, that will help Zach in a big way."

"Why would he screw it up?"

What hurts the people of Marion the most is that Randolph has been surrounded by strong role models -- Smedley, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks -- and responded to their guidance, only to step out of line.

"I just think he hangs with the wrong people," said Izzo, who coached Randolph for one season. "But I think one thing we do, maybe to a fault, is we are always telling these kids, 'Don't forget where you came from.' Well, that can be a problem when you come from a little rougher neighborhood. But for the most part, with Zach, if there is a fault, it is that he follows more than he leads."

Cheeks is trying to reverse that trend. He says he believes in Randolph, so much so that he wants him to become a leader on the Blazers, a point he made in a call shortly after the Aug. 22 shooting.

"I told him that being a leader means people look up to you," Cheeks said. "I told him you can't be getting caught up in this and that, it's just not acceptable. He has to be careful, with the things he does, the people he hangs with. . . . I mean, he doesn't have to shun his friends, but he can say, 'Look, I have something to lose here,' then keep moving on. Because if he continues along this path, then something is going to happen . . . it could be him."

And that would be a tragedy, the one that almost seems befitting of Marion -- a town that once had it all, but is on the verge of being left with nothing.

"He has worked so hard to get where he is at," Smedley said. "Why would he screw it up at some bar on a Saturday night in Indiana? And that's what bothers me, he has seen the right way to do things."

"I just feel so sad," said Kocher, the fourth-grade teacher. "I just don't think he is mature yet, he is still making bad decisions, not thinking ahead. He is not a bad kid, he just loves his brother and is caught in the middle of it all."

And that leaves two sides -- Marion and the Blazers -- wanting to believe, waiting to believe that Randolph is worth it.

"I look at him and I see what people see," Izzo said. "You want to love the guy, but you have questions about him."

Sinn Fein
08-31-2004, 06:12 PM
Randolph would put up 20 plus easy w/ Milluwkee

fin4life
08-31-2004, 09:36 PM
he does that in portland.

Nash13
08-31-2004, 10:32 PM
That would be a steal of a deal for Portland. They get a pure shooting guard and small forward, something they didn't have last year.

EricaLubarsky
08-31-2004, 10:35 PM
and they could keep SAR at PF

DCowboysGal
08-31-2004, 10:55 PM
But that would leave MIL without a starting-quality SF. T. Kukoc is too weak defensively to start, Darren Anderson is only 6'5", and K. Van Horn has already proven in previous stints at SF that he's too immobile to guard opposing SF's.

StvNash13
09-01-2004, 12:36 AM
Anybody who would trade one of the best shooters in the game for a fat ass pothead who's too stupid to ever reach his potential should be fired immediately.

StvNash13
09-01-2004, 12:37 AM
Also, if Portland pulled off this trade I would consider them immediate contenders, if not for the championship then for at least the playoffs, and maybe even to win their division.

NBAGnome
09-01-2004, 03:51 AM
Desmond Mason is a talented player, but hes not really a SF at 6' 5. He was playing out of position because of Michael Redd, and with Darius Miles finally coming along i don't know if he'd even start on Portland because Miles has great size and length for a SF.

Dirkenstien
09-01-2004, 09:30 AM
Portland should jump all over that

dalmations202
09-01-2004, 09:55 AM
This looks like a better trade for Portland than Milwaukee to me.

But, it would probably help both teams quite a bit.

LRB
09-01-2004, 11:59 AM
Portland would be stupid IMO not to take this trade if offered.

Sinn Fein
09-01-2004, 02:16 PM
Originally posted by: fin4life
he does that in portland.

He puts up 20, but not easy.

StvNash13
09-01-2004, 03:33 PM
Originally posted by: Sinn Fein

Originally posted by: fin4life
he does that in portland.

He puts up 20, but not easy.

20 points is 20 points, doesn't matter if you get them by making lay ups or half court shots.

Edit: changed does to doesn't.

Sinn Fein
09-01-2004, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by: StvNash13

Originally posted by: Sinn Fein

Originally posted by: fin4life
he does that in portland.

He puts up 20, but not easy.

20 points is 20 points, doesn't matter if you get them by making lay ups or half court shots.

Edit: changed does to doesn't.

Good lord, my point is that he'd be fairly dominant in the east. Last year he started out hot then tailed off, I think he averaged under 20 ppg after the break. In the east, being a post player, he should set a career high in ppg. Though he is selfish and plays NO D.

FilthyFinMavs
09-01-2004, 05:39 PM
Portland should do that quick. Don't sleep on Randolph. He's still a kid and is already a stud. He could've easily been an all star last season. Portland should throw a bad contract in the deal though. Maybe Stoudamire.

Poindexter Einstein
09-01-2004, 10:09 PM
Word from MILW is that they are not interested in the least.

LRB
09-02-2004, 12:56 AM
Originally posted by: Poindexter Einstein
Word from MILW is that they are not interested in the least.

I wouldn't be either with Randolph facing possible jail time.

Fah Q
09-03-2004, 03:49 PM
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Randolph will not be charged in connection with a barroom shooting after giving police investigators a second statement.



Randolph, a Marion, Ind., native, provided the second statement Thursday night in connection with the Aug. 22 shootings for which his brother, Roger, has been charged with three counts of battery with a deadly weapon.


Roger Randolph, meanwhile, was arrested on a weapons charge early Friday in Atlanta, his third weapons-related arrest in three weeks in three cities, Anderson police Detective Terry Sollars said.


Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings had said Zach Randolph, 23, might face criminal charges for not telling investigators all he knew about the shootings in his first statement hours after the incident. The brothers were together at the bar, Sinbad's Lounge and Grill, at the time.


"He cleared up any irregularities or confusion that may have been in his first statement. It didn't contain all of the facts," Sollars told The Associated Press.


The detective said he could not disclose what the player revealed Thursday because the case is pending in the courts.


Roger Randolph has been charged with shooting three men on a dance floor following an argument inside Sinbad's. None of the wounds suffered by those shot were considered life-threatening, police said.


If convicted on those charges, he could face six to 24 years in prison. His attorney, Jeff Lockwood, has said he would plead not guilty.


Zach Randolph, who was named in April as the NBA's Most Improved Player, had flown to Indiana on Thursday from Atlanta, where his agent, Raymond Brothers, is based, Sollars said. While the player was returning to Atlanta, his brother was arrested on possession of a .40-caliber Glock handgun that had been reported stolen in the Atlanta area on June 20, the detective said.


The agent and attorney James Voyles of Indianapolis accompanied the player to Anderson, about 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis, for the statement Thursday night, Sollars said.


Telephone messages seeking comment were left for both Brothers and Voyles at their offices Friday.


It wasn't clear why Roger Randolph was in Atlanta, Sollars said. He had been freed from the Madison County Jail on $40,000 bond on Aug. 23, the day after the shootings. Madison County authorities were seeking to revoke the bond following his latest arrest, Sollars said.


Roger Randolph also was free on bond on a handgun charge filed in adjacent Grant County, where Marion is located, the week before the shootings, Sollars said.

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I guess Randolph was smart enough to rat out his brother. I think there is apoint to where you gotta cover your own ass instead of the people that got you in trouble's ass. I guess Randolph is figuring out that his brother was nothing but trouble.