Zach Randolph isn't worried about whether his 14-year-old son, Zachariah, retraces his sizable basketball footsteps. "Basketball isn't everything," Randolph likes to tell him. Yes, he counsels him on the game. But most of their conversations are about life's choices and consequences. Be positive, Randolph tells him. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Make smart decisions.
"That's an important age — 14, 15, 16," Randolph said. "I didn't have that father figure in my life. Maybe if I would have had a daddy saying, 'Zach, don't do this' or 'Get in the house' or 'Where's your report card?,' then … "
Randolph trails off, but his point is clear. Picture him at the same impressionable age as his son — already a strong basketball player, just before he became one of the few freshmen ever summoned to Marion High School's varsity team. In basketball-crazed Indiana, it was a distinction so uncommon that "I can probably count them on one hand," said Jim Brunner, in his 42nd year as the voice of the Marion Giants.