Before the Memphis Grizzlies confirmed it by locking up Rudy Gay with a five-year, $82 million contract on the first day of free agency, Gay was seen as the future of the franchise. Memphis gave up Shane Battier to acquire Gay in a Draft-day trade with Houston back in ’06, and he’s repaid them by averaging 17.4 points and 5.5 boards over the first four years of his career.
In Dime #57, Rudy talked to us in a “10 Sense” article about playing in a contract year and leading the Grizzlies’ return to respectability:
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1. We’re better this year because of the time people put in during the summer. Personally, I was lifting a lot more, trying to add more power and explosiveness. I put on about 20 pounds of muscle. On the court, we just had to get to know each other. We paid more attention to details and helped each other out.
2. On the road, for the most part we all just get together and eat and laugh. Mike Conley, he’s a big video-game guy. Him and Darrell Arthur, that’s all they do. I used to be like that, but I kind of got away from it.
3. People said me and O.J. (Mayo) would have trouble sharing the ball, but I didn’t think there was any truth to that. We knew we needed each other to be good. I think it’s more about learning how to play with a new guy. We both have kind of the same personality, so that was the only thing. I feel as though I can take over a game, and he feels the same way.
4. I don’t wanna use any excuses, but just having a coach who you know is gonna be there throughout the season really helps. (Editor’s note: In Rudy’s first three seasons, the Grizzlies had five head coaches before Lionel Hollins was hired full-time.) It’s difficult having to learn a different strategy and a whole new way of playing all the time.
5. When I didn’t get an extension (before last season), I was just thinking, “OK, it’s time to play ball.” A lot of guys try to pick their game up in a contract year, but that’s not me. I’m going to pick up my game because I want to be great. I want to be known as one of the best players in the League. Being in a contract year has nothing to do with it. I play because I want to be respected.
6. I’m the only guy on this team that’s been here the whole four years during my tenure. I feel like I’ve seen it all.
7. I’m not a gaudy guy. I have some jewelry and stuff, but not much that’s too crazy. I bought a necklace a while ago; it’s just a little Jesus piece.
8. I’m not really sure what went wrong with (Allen Iverson). Obviously he’s a great player, but I’m not sure what happened with his whole blow-up. I think we could have made it work. When he was here I learned from him. I soaked up as much as I could.
9. Scoring is what I do. I want to get to a point where I could score 35, 40 points in a game and it’s nothing new.
10. I definitely think I can dominate. People who say I’m only a secondary guy, obviously they don’t know me. I’m only 23 years old; I’m only in my fourth year in the League. I’m learning more and more how to do different things and how to be a dominant player.