Rudy Gay bounced a basketball inside his new team's practice facility on Thursday – hundreds of times, in fact, and without dribbling off of his foot even once.

He took shots with his Sacramento Kings teammates, making some and missing others but always firing away with a smooth stroke befitting someone who does this for a living.

Yes, folks, he can still play this game. And no, even with the ultra-negative narrative that surrounds him, he's not ready to crumble amid all this criticism just yet.

While the endless analysis of Gay's game is warranted, all this focus on the fact that his season with the Toronto Raptors through 18 games was on the brink of being historically-inefficient and was the continuation of his personal decline, the sheer din of all the dissecting has grown so loud that you wonder if some of the scribes who are tearing him to pieces believe deep down that they could beat him in a game of one-on-one. I'm kidding, of course. Sort of.

Gay and his play have become one of basketball's biggest debates, a water cooler item that was discussed so fervently last season when the Memphis Grizzlies traded him to Toronto in late January and one that never truly stopped when he struggled so mightily with the Raptors. Yet it began long before that.

Ever since he missed Memphis' last two months of the regular season and the 2010-11 postseason because of a shoulder injury and the Grizzlies reached the second round without him, people have wondered aloud whether he made his teams better. Meanwhile, the league-wide landscape came into play on the perception front too: LeBron James and his all-around game continued to evolve in truly remarkable ways, thereby setting the small forward bar so remarkably high that less-versatile talents like Gay and the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony seemed more subpar with every passing year.

Yet as the 27-year-old Gay is well aware, there's nothing he can do to change the past. His recent production, or lack thereof, is the root of all this evil.