It feels like ages since we've seen the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers inside of FedexForum. The last moment I recall of the Clips in Memphis was Chris Paul and Z-Bo being ejected as I squealed with delight as the Grizzlies made it out of the first round of the playoffs again. But that moment hardly does the rivalry the justice it deserves, and although CPIII can talk some mad ish, the highlight bout is always going to Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin.
With the matchup being renewed tonight, it's time to look back at some of the better tussles between these two beasts who seem to often reenact my Saturday mornings as a kid. (If you grew up in Memphis in the 1980's that would include hours of watching professional wrestling.)
The Top 5 Zach/Blake Fights
(in chronological order)
April 29th, 2012 - Game 1, 1st Round of Western Conf Playoffs
"The Push Ups"
We won't go into too much detail over this game, ahem..cough..ahem, because it's not all that pleasant of an ending for Grizzlies fans, but Memphians were treated to some colorful behavior from Randolph after a hard foul from Griffin. Zach was just a few weeks returned from his MCL tear and was visibly not the same player he was before the injury ... so he had something to prove to his home crowd.
May 7th, 2012 - Game 4, 1st Round of Western Conf Playoffs
"The Chest Bump"
This was one of the first big scuffles between Griffin and Z-Bo. They'd become acquainted with several regular season games already in the books and some hard play in the previous couple of playoff games, and you knew they didn't really care for one another.
As tension from a disappointing series for the 4th-seed Memphis Grizzlies started to accumulate, Z-Bo unleashed what would prove to be the first of many violent encounters.
The chest bump (push?) is just classic. Zach wasn't in his best shape, but that mass was still there.
May 13th, 2012 - Game 7, 1st Round of Western Conf Playoffs
"The Death Hammer"
This might actually be the most violent act ever recorded between the two players. I suppose that Randolph sold this "forearm shiver" as an attempt to rebound the ball that happened to be kinda/sorta in the vicinity. We Griz fans joke about how soft Blake Griffin is, but I'll tell you right now that if Zach made that contact with 99% of the people reading this, they'd (myself definitely included) would be splayed out on the ground and unconscious.
I'm still absolutely amazed that there was no foul called.
October 31st, 2012 - Season Opener for 2012-13
The Memphis Grizzlies and Zach Randolph had a horribly bitter taste in their mouths from the Clippers bouncing them out of the first round just months prior to this incident. The Grizzlies had blown the best seeding they'd ever had in the playoffs, and Z-Bo was apparently headhunting for trophies to compensate for the pain.
Yet another blatant takedown that the officials all somehow missed. I'll give it to Z-Bo though, the man is sly with his moves. You can sometimes actually believe that his "momentum" is causing some of these collisions. Great maneuver though, and just like in pro wrestling, Griffin gets up and is more or less fine.
May 3rd, 2013 - Game 6, 1st Round of Western Conf Playoffs
"Is Z-Bo gonna have to choke a bitch?"
Before the game in Los Angeles earlier in the current season, this was the last time Randolph played basketball against Griffin. Just a few days before, Blake injured an ankle in practice and was probably starting to feel some of the frustration that Randolph felt the previous season when he struggled to get his body to perform to his expectations.
The two giants get tangled up positioning for a rebound, and when Griffin tries to pull a "Z-Bo" and drag him down to the ground with his "momentum", Zach takes exception and shows Blake exactly how things play out when you instigate trouble with him.
I love how the announcer in the video downplays the whole thing as no big deal. "You know, choking is just a part of the game. If you don't like it then go play tennis." (facetious misquote satire)
There are your top 5 brawls between two of the best power forwards in the game. That's over 500 lbs of throwback NBA rock'em-sock'em post play.