Top 50: Rudy Gay, no. 44
The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.
High up in his office at the NBA’s headquarters, commissioner David Stern sits silently plotting which territory his league will conquer next on a giant world map. He is interrupted by his secretary buzzing in on his phone.
Secretary – Sir, Mr. Gay is here to see you.
Stern – Send him in please.
Rudy Gay enters the room, kneels before Stern and kisses his ring.
Stern – Rudy, my son, to what do I owe this pleasure?
Gay – Godfather Stern, I have come to humbly ask a favor of you.
Stern – We’ll get to that, my son. But first I want to congratulate you on the summer you are having. I’m hearing good things about you my boy. Your putting on muscle to enable you to have a more formidable post up game to go along with your already strong slashing and outside shooting abilities. I also heard good things from USA Basketball – you opened a lot of eyes while at their camp.
Gay – Thank you Godfather Stern – it has been an eventful summer.
Stern – Mark my words Rudy – you’re going to be a star, kid. You just turned 23-years-old – you haven’t even come close to reaching your potential yet. You have great size for a small forward, you can knock down the three or slash to the hoop. You will be one of the top scorers in the League before long. You also have the potential to be a lockdown defender and above average rebounder if you put your mind to it. The sky’s the limit for you my son.
Gay – Thank you Godfather Stern – it is quite an honor hearing this come out of the mouth of such a great and powerful man like yourself.
Stern – I mean everything I say, Rudy my boy. Now, you mentioned something about a favor. Is this about that travesty of a Top 50 player list that SLAMonline just came out with? No. 44 for such a great talent like yourself is a slap in the face of all that is good and just in the world. You’re only a few spots ahead of that one-dimensional Ben Gordon. Say the word Rudy and I’ll “have a word” with those know-nothing SLAM writers.
Gay – No, no – it has nothing to do with that. I’m honored to be ranked at No. 44. What I wanted to talk to you about was the ball.
Stern – The ball? We already took those synthetic balls from the past out for a little drive in the desert - they won’t be heard from again, if you catch my drift.
Gay – No, I’m talking about the number of balls that are used in a game. I humbly ask that you consider having two balls in play at the same time during our games next year, Mr. Godfather sir.
Stern – And why would you want us to do that?
Gay – Well, to be considered one of the top scorers in the League, which I should be, I will need to get plenty of touches each game. O.J. Mayo was just a rookie last season and he still took more shots than I did. Now the wise guys that run our team have decided to add Mr. Black Hole, Zach Randolph, to the roster. I’ll need an extra ball in play just to get up enough shots.
Stern – I like that idea, my boy. It would help us sell more balls. It would raise scoring levels, and we know how much fans like scoring. Plus, with more teams hitting the 100-point threshold every game, you know what that would mean?
Gay – No, what?
Stern – More free chalupas!! Everyone loves chalupas, especially when they are free. I will take this two ball idea into serious consideration, young Rudy. And if I decide against it, the least I will do is “have a word” with Mr. Randolph and Mr. Mayo.
(Shortly after this story was written Zach Randolph “mysteriously” vanished off the face of the earth and O.J. Mayo woke up one morning with the stuffed head of the Grizzlies mascot, Grizz, in his bed).
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’09-10 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Brett Ballantini, Russ Bengtson, Toney Blare, Shannon Booher, Myles Brown, Franklyn Calle, Gregory Dole, Emry DowningHall, Jonathan Evans, Adam Fleischer, Jeff Fox, Sherman Johnson, Aaron Kaplowitz, John Krolik, Holly MacKenzie, Ryne Nelson, Chris O’Leary, Ben Osborne, Alan Paul, Susan Price, Sam Rubenstein, Khalid Salaam, Kye Stephenson, Adam Sweeney, Vincent Thomas, Tzvi Twersky, Justin Walsh, Joey Whelan, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.