Earlier this week, I gave you a Prince track for all of the Grizzlies role players. Now, to cap off our playlist, we’ve got tracks for Coach Fizdale and the Core Four.
David Fizdale - “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
“If I was your girlfriend/Would you run to me if somebody hurt you/Even if that somebody were me?”
This is probably less a song for David Fizdale and more of a shot at Dave Joerger, who wanted the Timberwolves job and then the Kings job before finally parting ways with the Grizzlies. Fizdale’s first season has had its ups and downs. There’ve been questions about rotations and line-ups and how his leadership style meshes with that of his veteran leaders, but for the most part, Fizdale’s been successful: he’s developed his rookies; he got the team to the playoffs; and he won (2) games against the NBA’s most accomplished and revered coach.
I don’t know what any of that has to do with “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” to be honest, but I really like this song and I wanted it to be on this list, and, to paraphrase Matt Hrdlicka from GBB Book Club, this list is really just an excuse for me to talk about Prince songs.
Zach Randolph - “Let’s Work”
“Nothing can stop us now/I’m gonna show you how/Show you how to work/C’mon let’s have some fun/We’ll work till morning comes/Yeah, lemme see ya work”
Like a lot of great Prince tracks, and like I mentioned a couple of times in the first half of this article, a lot of Prince’s songs have a second, longer version available. The original version of “Let’s Work” (let’s call it the Portland version) was a four-minute single released off of the Controversy album. It was good, but it pales in comparison to the 8 minute 12” version, a danceable, bass-driven funk jam that’s only made better by Prince’s perfect falsetto.
Z-Bo is at his most fun when he’s working hard in the post, imposing his brand of bully ball on opponents, jab-stepping would-be defenders into oblivion before draining jumpers. Zach Randolph is a Memphis legend, and his blue collar work ethic on the floor is one of the qualities that have most endeared him to Grizzlies fans.
Throw it to the hand and let’s work.
Marc Gasol - “Come”
“If you had the chance to see the future would you try?/Come/If you will so will I”
Apart from the obvious innuendo and lyrics that are, um… let’s just call them sultry… this isn’t really your typical Prince song, even by slow jam standards. “Come” is a slow burn, with a subtle, smooth melody interspersed with stretches of freeform jazz. It’s also 11 minutes long, which is really what makes it so great.
Gasol has never been the sort of high-flying athletic center that packs highlight reels. Gasol’s game is built on subtleties — the shoulder leans, the no-look passes, the fadeaway shots; his game is jazz. And while, on some nights, Gasol’s brand of subtle basketball can be frustrating and just isn’t what the Grizzlies need, in just the way that sometimes an 11-minute slow jam isn’t what you need to get you going, there are times when it’s exactly what Memphis needs to finish strong.
Mike Conley - “Chelsea Rodgers”
“You don’t be chasing nobody’s ghost/Of everything make the most”
Planet Earth was a really weird album. It had some okay songs on it, but there was also a whole lot of trash on that album, too. That’s kind of like the Grizzlies draft history. There’s been some okay picks. But there’s also been a lot of complete trash.
And just like Conley is (possibly) the best player the Grizzlies have drafted (and kept), “Chelsea Rodgers” is the best song on Planet Earth.
“Chelsea Rodgers” is a FREAKING BANGER of a song, the sort of horn-fueled jam that would put even Bruno Mars to shame. I mean, seriously, this song has ONE OF THE BEST HORN SOLOS OF ALL TIME and I could listen to it all day. I mean, cmon. How can you not love a song with a line like “Still got butt like a leather seat.” In a way, listening to this song brings the same sort of pure joy you get watching Conley put on an offensive clinic.
Tony Allen - “Purple Rain”
“Baby, I could never steal you from another/It’s such a shame our friendship had to end”
Let’s be honest: Prince has plenty of songs that are much better than “Purple Rain,” which isn’t even the best song on its own album. But for most people, “Purple Rain” is the defining Prince song, the quintessential hit for an artist whose career spanned multiple decades and over thirty albums. “Purple Rain” is the song that most immediately comes to mind to people when they hear Prince’s name.
Tony Allen is that for the Grizzlies. Allen isn’t the best player who’s ever played for the Grizzlies (he isn’t even the best member of the Core Four), and Zach Randolph sits higher in the Grizzlies pantheon. But Allen is still the Grizzly who breathed life in to the Grit ‘n’ Grind identity that’s lasted the better part of the last decade. He’s the one who spoke the words that have become a team-centric media branch. For all of the accomplishments of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph, Allen and his own brand of blue collar work ethic remain the anthem of the Grizzlies.
For that reason alone, Tony Allen’s song is “Purple Rain.”