Who do you put on a Grizzlies' Mount Rushmore?
There's so many different ways to approach this question. You can start by comparing players' impact to the impact of the actual men on Mount Rushmore, but I, for one, am not very comfortable in making an analogy between the ideals and principles that helped found and forge our country and a professional sport. I feel the best way to assign these spots is to discern the most impactful players, both on and off the court. Without further pomp, here are my decisions and explanations:
(Coaches were considered, but my reasoning is that if I include Hubie Brown then I have to include Lionel Hollins - and it's weird to include a coach that was not re-signed after a 56 win season. That and it's just a little anticlimactic to have two coaches on our Mount Rushmore.)
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I know he's not everyone's favorite, but he was the first "star" for the Memphis Grizzlies, and he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever come across. Pau was the first face of the franchise once the team set roots down in Memphis (what a face, huh?) and even brought along his pudgy little brother to play high school basketball in the Bluff City.
Pau has been the franchise's only Rookie of the Year and was our only NBA All-Star until Zach Randolph came our way in 2009. Although Hubie Brown was an enormous part of the Grizzlies' modicum of success early on in Memphis, Pau was the player that led those Grizzlies teams to the playoffs and he still holds numerous franchise records. They'll all eventually be picked off by either Mike Conley or Pau's brother, Marc, but the first Spaniard of Memphis deserves his place amongst the Grizzlies' finest.
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Part of the issue with deciding a Mount Rushmore is the domino effect the first selection has on the other three selections. I mean I'm not going to put Pau on the Rushmore and leave off his little brother who came to Memphis as a "throw in" with the 2008 trade that shipped Pau to the Lakers.
Marc, aka the Wendigo aka Gasoline aka Marcus, has become one of the shining aspects of the city of Memphis, TN. He's our "adopted son," having played high school ball for Lausanne during his time in the states in the early 2000's. We love him for this, and Marc admits to taking a significant amount of pride in representing Memphis and playing for his foster city. The second Gasol brother also bears the honor of an All-Star selection as Grizzly, as well as the Defensive Player of the Year Award and All NBA Second Team for 2013. Marc is a special player and special guy, one that Memphians and Grizzlies fans hope is planted in the city for the rest of his NBA career.
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Ah, the sweet taste of success. After being maligned for much of his career, Zach Randolph aka ZBo found a comfortable home in Memphis with the Grizzlies. His playing style, attitude and work ethic married with the city in a glorious lovefest that saw the Griz notch their first playoff win in franchise history. And it wasn't just that ZBo was a part of that team - he carried that 8th seed squad that knocked the Spurs out in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
It wasn't long after that Zach was purchasing a home in Memphis and claiming that he'd be here to stay as a citizen even if he was traded to another team. This led to a full-on embracing of ZBo and his family, a bond that keeps Zach heavily involved in the local community and keeps him playing hard on the court. Aside from being a stalwart in producing for the Grizzlies, Randolph also holds the honor of being the franchise's only 2-time All-Star.
Here's where I might get crucified, leaving off a host of other excellent candidates for the Grizzlies Mount Rushmore. But even with as much impact as Zach Randolph has had on the city of Memphis, no other player has quite had the cultural influence of Tony Allen - and that goes for any basketball player for any city in history, honestly.
NBA Mount Rushmore Day
NBA Mount Rushmore Day
Tony doesn't always have the finesse and bawdy stats that the previous three enshrinements can make claim to, but I'm not sure how you can make a case to leave the Grindfather out of the party. His name is the Grindfather for goodness' sake. What's sort of ironic about the name is that TA is often the enforcer of the "Memphis Mafia," clawing away steals and diving for loose balls like he's diving on a grenade for the audience. Although he is the founder of the Grit'n'Grind mantra adopted by the Grizzlies, Tony will rarely keep his hands clean of the dirty work that the Grizzlies have hung their hat on for the past few years. A two-time NBA All Defensive First Team selection for the Grizzlies, Tony Allen gives Memphis a championship attitude as they grind forth towards their ultimate goal of making it to the NBA Finals.
Who is on your Grizzlies' Mount Rushmore?
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