The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that Tony Allen’s #9 jersey will one day be retired and hung from the rafters in FedExForum. The announcement comes the day before Allen returns with his new team, the New Orleans Pelicans, for a preseason game and six days before the same Pelicans return to Memphis for the regular season opener.
Here is Robert Pera, Controlling Owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, on Tony’s number being retired.
...I would like to thank him for his incredible contributions to the Grizzlies and the unique way that he inspired the city of Memphis. We are proud that the Grindfather’s #9 jersey will hang in the rafters of FedExForum alongside Zach’s one day.”
From the same press release, which you can read in full here, here is Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace, who was responsible for getting Tony to Memphis as a free agent years ago.
...Tony became more than just one of the toughest defenders in the league – he became a true cult hero who was intertwined with the soul of Memphis like few athletes ever have in any city.
There was some speculation as to whether or not Allen would receive the same accolades as Zach Randolph did. This move isn’t surprising or outlandish if you’ve been following the Grit and Grind era of the Grizzlies closely, however. Allen, as both Pera and Wallace alluded to, is largely responsible for a lot of the culture that is currently ingrained in Memphis and their veteran players, like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Without TA, there likely is no 2011 playoff run for the ages, or Western Conference Finals appearance in 2013.
What so many have come to know and love about this organization probably wouldn’t exist without Tony Allen. So even though the team has moved on, and some will probably disagree with the decision (mostly those outside of Memphis and the Grizzlies fan base), this acknowledgment is a nice touch and deserving for a true Memphis icon.
Congrats TA, you may now be a Pelican, but you’ll always be with us.