How far do you think the Memphis Grizzlies will go in the postseason?
For some of their free agents, that will be all they have left with the Grizzlies. This is a fact of life in a sport with free agency and salary caps. Two potential free agents are particularly notable for Grizzlies fans and the city of Memphis: Zach Randolph and Tony Allen.
Ignore the memories you have of them for a moment. They’re both aging veterans with skills that are depreciating over the years. Would you re-sign them? What about to starter-level money (which in Summer ‘16 was proven to be $17 Million a year OR MORE). Probably not. So don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies let them walk despite the intangible benefits they've accumulated over the years.
They've been a completely integral part of setting an identity for the Memphis Grizzlies. Tony Allen and Zach Randolph birthed the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies, and quite frankly put Memphis on the NBA map.
Before they brought success to the franchise, the Grizzlies were known for having the worst Rookie of the Year ever (Mike Miller) and a star stuck in a listless franchise (Pau Gasol). If the Grizzlies front office does bring them back it wouldn’t be that surprising and especially not disappointing. Who would try to run either of them out of town?
So, now, people still think of the Grizzlies as “Grit and Grind” and pounding it inside despite placing more emphasis on the three-pointer and younger players. Marc Gasol used to bang down low on offense and now he's taken a career high 268 3-pointers this season. That compared to the 66 attempts he had in the 8 years prior. Such is life in an evolving NBA.
So Zach Randolph and Tony Allen might not come back. This might be their last series or their second to last series. I'm not here to talk about if they’ll come back, if they’ll retire, or even how they’ll perform going forward.
This is just a celebration of two of the Core Four, two founding fathers of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise, not just the team. Two players that set the identity of the franchise that will last long after they leave, probably too long after they drop the style of play. But they will be considered the bases of the franchise for a young team like Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady helped Toronto’s rise to prominence from a young organization. They might not be as talented, but they're just as important.
So let’s just enjoy five of the best moments that Tony Allen and Zach Randolph brought us over the years. Re-signing them or even having them wanting to play another season is out of our hands, as fans. But we can make sure they're truly appreciated. Without further ado, here are the top-5 moments they've provided over the years, in order of greatness. Or should I say GRITNESS... yeah okay I’m sorry let's just go to the clips.
5. FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE
FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE. Tony Allen yelled this throughout game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals. He got 4 steals and led the Grizzlies to a win that tied the series 1-1 with the #1 seed Warriors (don’t worry what happens next)! Players aren't so upfront about wanting certain awards, so it was refreshing to see. Because it was Tony Allen, it wasn't the least bit surprising. And he was deserving; he was named FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE soon after.
4. “I Don’t Bluff.”
This wasn't even *that* big of a fight. But this was the altercation where the phrase “I don’t bluff” came to be when Zach Randolph described the situation to Chris Vernon on his local ESPN Memphis radio show. The organization tweaked it to “We Don’t Bluff” and made it a rallying cry for also helped mold the Grit n Grind identity in the first place. Z-Bo’s right. We don’t bluff. Luckily, I’m not a part of the “we” because I’m 5’8” if Kendrick Perkins wanted to fight me I’d probably immediately faint. So props to Z-Bo.
3. BAH GAWD, KING, THAT’S A SUPLEX
There are a lot of Zach Randolph vs. Blake Griffin moments over the years that are equally dramatic and hilarious. This clip exemplifies this rivalry at both ends of the spectrum. Dramatic because an NBA player got suplexed onto the gosh darn ground. Hilarious because it was Blake Griffin being suplexed by Zach Randolph. Blake was okay, so it's fine to enjoy now. But that is quite the bump he took.
2. Tony Allen > Michael Jordan
Once, I compared Tony Allen’s driving ability to watching a toddler avoid the corners of tables. There’s nothing you can really do, you know they have to do it on their own, and you also know it’s probably not gonna end well, no matter how funny it looks.
This had all the makings of a hilarious Tony Allen drive. Yeah, maybe that means a turnover, but TA doesn’t get many offensive opportunities so he is going to peak interest when he has the chance. Not only did he actually surpass expectations, he stared down Michael Jordan while doing it! Against the team Jordan owns! In his stadium! Tony Allen for commissioner, honestly.
1. Zach Randolph’s Series-Clinching Three-Pointer
Oh my god. It’s actually happening. Zach Randolph hits his 9th(!) total 3-pointer of the season and the Grizzlies, the same damn team that never won a single playoff game, just took a 2-1 lead going in to a home game 4. The Grizzlies went on to actually go into the 2nd round the same year they won their first playoff game in the 15 year history of the franchise. 2011. What a time to be alive.
We don’t know if there will be any more memorable or quintessential Grit and Grind moments for these two. Tony Allen might not play another possession for the Grizzlies considering his injuries and Z-Bo probably isn’t hitting another series-clinching three. No matter their future performance, their contribution to this city and franchise should be celebrated and enjoyed, while we can still show it.