Besides Marc and Pau Gasol, the Grizzlies 'best' centers have been considered role players or busts at some point in their career. Let's take a look at the top 5 centers in Grizzlies' history and why they were beloved by the city of Memphis.
(Honorable Mention) Kosta Koufos: Koufos has never been a glamorous player and that's what the Grizzlies organization and fans loved about him the most in his two year stint with the Griz. I remember the first time I saw him play against the Grizzlies. I knew he was a player we would eventually want, with his unselfish style of play, solid defense, and high basketball IQ.
My favorite Kosta moment was when he dunked on C.J. McCollum in the playoffs last year. McCollum deserved every bit of it. (For breaking Mike Conley's face, of course.)
5. Marresse Speights
Mo Speights career was rejuvenated when he joined the Grizzlies in 2011-13 and 2012-13 seasons. After Zach Randolph went down for most of the 2011-12 season, Mo stepped in and performed brilliantly. Whenever Mo played well, the Grizzlies played well. One game that stuck out to me the most was his 20 point and career high 18 rebounds against the New Jersey Nets in 2012. I think what we loved most about Mo was his mid-range jumper and inside presence.
Here's a video of Mo with a nasty dunk on current Grizzlies' center Brandan Wright :)
4. Stromile Swift
Although he never lived up to his potential, Stromile Swift had to be on the list just for pure athleticism. Every home game I attended, we all knew we were in for an electrifying dunk from the "Stro-Show." He was arguably one of the most underrated dunkers of all time. I think this video will change your mind if you think otherwise. If you were a true Griz fan you would never forget his two-handed monster slam on Yao Ming.
3. Lorenzen Wright
It has been 5 years since beloved Memphis basketball legend Lorenzen Wright's death, and his murderer has still not been identified. Growing up in midtown as a Memphis Tigers and Grizzlies fan, I truly learned to love Lorenzen. I'll never forget our games against the Shaq and Kobe lead Los Angeles Lakers' team. I could hear him screaming, "Let's beat these Mother F******" and we would chant "beat LA." Wright created that passion. R.I.P Lorenzen Wright, we love and miss you!
2. Pau Gasol
Pau.... Ah.... I always had a love/hate relationship with him. I loved Pau for the relevance he brought to the Memphis Grizzlies organization and the city of Memphis, his charity roles, his fundamentals, undeniable scoring ability, and the numerous times he dunked on Kevin Garnett. Yes, I said numerous times... Look it up. I hated him because he never won us a playoff game, his constant whining (we all know he did), and that he left the Griz to play for the most hated team by Griz fans (Lakers). However, without Pau I may not have enjoyed my child hood as a Grizzlies fan. Check out some of his highlights with Memphis.
1. Marc Gasol
Finally, we come to Pau's brother, Marc Gasol. Now that Gasol is locked up for the next 5 years with the Griz, it's safe to say he is the most beloved player/center in franchise history and one of the most fundamental centers in NBA history. Marc loves this town. And everyone knows it. He has the skills to pay the bills. I think about the murals of him across town, the playoff wins he has racked up for the Griz, his relentless passion to win, his beastly, ferocious screams... It gives me goosebumps. I honestly believe, as long as the Grizzlies are in Memphis, our best chance to win a championship is with the one and only "Big Spain."
Marc is Unstoppable. Marc is Memphis.