Former NBA star Zach Randolph admits he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he joined LA-based entrepreneur and friend Romie Chaudhari in purchasing a share in new NBL club South East Melbourne Phoenix.
On his first trip to Melbourne, all 206cm of the man mountain laughs when asked if he thought he might see a few people riding kangaroos down the street.
“Yeah, look, I ain’t gonna lie, but man, it’s beautiful, the people here are beautiful, it’s just great here, man.”
Randolph caught Phoenix’s thrilling 96-95 Throwdown loss to Melbourne United last Saturday and was blown away by the standard of the NBL.
“I guess I didn’t really do my research like I usually do, I was rushing, I guess the city’s beautiful and everything, they’re basketball people, they have love for the team and the city,” Randolph told the Herald Sun.
“This league has been here longer than 40 years, and I see why this is the best league besides the NBA in the world. Honestly, I don’t just say that because I’m a part owner, because the platform, the players, the cities, who wouldn’t want to come here?”
Zach Randolph (right) takes on Andrew Bogut in his time at the Memphis Grizzlies.Source:Getty Images
Randolph, who counts fellow former NBA players Josh Childress and Al Harrington, as well as Aussie Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum as partners in the ownership group, is excited to see the Phoenix develop in the burgeoning corridor of Melbourne’s southeast.
“I took a helicopter around to see the city today, the southeastern corridor to Drouin and just how they’re building up,” he said.
“They say the population’s going to double, you can just see it plain clear as day.
“I’m excited just being a part of this organisation and getting a chance to see it build from where we’re at into the future, I can see the sky’s the limit.”
Randolph says he and Chaudhari are “family”.
“He asked me to be a part of it and I was ecstatic about the opportunity he was giving me because I love the game,” he said.
“I’m just being thankful for our relationship and getting the chance to be in this position like this because he could have done that for anybody, he don’t really need nobody.”
Chaudhari interjects: “This is my guy, whatever I’m doing, he’s welcome to be a part of.”
“There’s a lot of trust between us.”
Keith Benson of the Phoenix attacks the basket against the Adelaide 36ers.Source:AAP
Twice an NBA All Star, Randolph spent 18 years in the league, much of it as an interior powerhouse producing six seasons with averages better than 20 points and 10 rebounds.
So it comes as no surprise he’s a fan of Phoenix import Keith Benson, who had his best game for the club with 20 points and eight rebounds against United.
“I like all of them, I like big fella Benson, of course, Mitch (Creek), he’s great,” Randolph said.
“The guys play great, if they can keep up the way they play together, the sky’s the limit. We fought the whole game out and I see the potential, I see what we can do, keep on building this thing up.”
Originally published asFormer NBA star’s big Aussie adventure
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