The time Zach Randolph feared for his life after punching Ruben Patterson

The time Zach Randolph feared for his life after punching Ruben Patterson

Conflicts and arguments between teammates are a normal occurrence in sports, and especially basketball. The NBA has seen its fair share of teammates feuding with each other, some more minor, and some like this story were a bit more serious.

The newer generation of NBA fans knows Zach Randolph as one of the leaders of the “Grit & Grind” Memphis Grizzlies that were a menace for every team in the Western Conference for years. Zach was that pivotal bruiser at the power forward position, using his skill on the block and impeccable strength to bully opponents. Z-Bo got a great reputation in Memphis for being one of the nicer guys in the NBA despite his tough look.

But older NBA fans remember Randolph as a young player on one of the most disreputable teams in NBA history-the Portland Trail Blazers of the early 2000s, better known as the “Jail Blazers.” This team had unbelievable talent on the floor and some of the most troublesome guys off the court, with guys like Ruben Patterson, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Bonzi Wells, Qyntel Woods, and more leading the pack.

The “Bad Boys” of the modern generation of the NBA were reaping havoc on the NBA, but where they made real noise was off the court, getting involved in numerous scandals. So having a mix of so many personalities on one team had to result in heated practices. That’s where Z-Bo and Patterson come into play.

Patterson was one of the most feared players in the league at the time, not only for his on-court game but the off-court troubles he was involved in. On the other side, Randolph was a young up-and-coming player in this league, trying to make a name for himself. The two never clicked, as Randolph was often seen as a target for Patterson’s hazing. It created bad blood and culminated back in 2003, during one of their practices.

During a scrimmage, Patterson got into it with Qyntel Woods, arguing face to face. Randolph decided to jump into Woods’s defense and sucker punch Patterson, fracturing his eye socket. It caused all-out mayhem, with the two having to be separated. In the aftermath, Randolph colled down and realized what he did – that’s when panic set in. Things got so bad that Randolph decided to hide for the next couple of days at Dale Davis’s house, afraid Patterson would pull up to his home and shoot him. Randolph had sound reasoning, as Patterson was furious for quite a while.

In the end, Randolph was fined 100,000$, suspended for two games, and apologized to Patterson, even though apparently the apology was never accepted. The two managed to co-exist for the foreseeable future until Patterson got traded to Denver. I can only imagine how awkward things must have been in that locker room after that incident. Patterson finished his career with a reputation of a troublesome guy. At the same time, Randolph managed to build an excellent reputation, becoming one of the most loved players in the league until he retired in 2018 after his last season with the Sacramento Kings.