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It’s time for the Grizzlies to move on from Grit & Grind

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The 2018 NBA Draft is the perfect time for the Grizzlies to launch into a new era

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Grit & Grind Grizzlies will forever be remembered by the franchise and their fans. It was the first time the team was actually consistently relevant. Those teams and that core brought the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis together to become one.

It all started in February of 2011, when Tony Allen uttered the phrase “All Heart. Grit. Grind” after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. Turns out, at the time it was a subtle jab at Rudy Gay for sitting the game out, but it turned into so much more. From that moment in 2011 up until the Spurs eliminated the Grizzlies in the 2017 playoffs, the team was known for their Grit & Grind style of play.

When Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, the two biggest founders of the Grit & Grind era, left in free agency during the summer of 2017 it was assumed the era was over. Grit & Grind had run it’s course. However, the Grizzlies organization still today pushes the Grit & Grind mantra, most recently with their New Era hats for the 2018 NBA Draft.

It’s time to leave Grit & Grind in the past.

It’s a disservice to TA and Z-Bo to continue to associate these Grizzlies with that era. Sure Conley and Gasol are still around, but they don’t embody that era quite like TA and Z-Bo. It’s time to move on.

The 2018 Draft marks the perfect time for the Grizzlies to progress in to their next era. With the #4 and #32 picks in the draft, the Grizzlies have a great opportunity to draft their future star and role player for the next several seasons. One draft won’t all of a sudden change the teams identity, but it’s the start the Grizzlies need. Gasol and Conley are aging, and outside of Dillon Brooks, nobody else on this roster gives fans much reason to believe in long-term success for the franchise. This draft could change that. Whether it’s Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley or (sighs) Michael Porter Jr. the Grizzlies select #4 overall, that player will hold the keys to the future of the Grizzlies.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Missouri vs Florida State Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Team identities are funny. The “7 seconds or less” Suns got their identity from their up-tempo style of play, the “Bad Boy” Pistons got their identity for playing physical and slightly dirty. And then you have the “Grit & Grind” Grizzlies, who got their identity from their style of play, but it all really started from Tony Allen saying those now famous words.

Memphis has always been different from everyone else. The next Grizzlies identity will almost surely be different as well. It’s time to start to form this season and beyond’s character with two more prospects in the fold and a “fresh start” with J.B. Bickerstaff. As hard as it may be, it is time to move forward.

Typically, you don’t create an basketball style and era by a postgame interview. TA’s words would not mean anything if the team was soft. TA’s words mean something because he backed it up on the court. The Grizzlies backed it up on the court. It’s up to the front office, coaching staff and players to determine what the next Grizzlies era will be like. Maybe it’s a fun, pass friendly era that embodies teamwork. Or maybe it’s a total blow up and rebuild.

Either way, the next era starts now. The Grizzlies can’t spend anymore time in identity limbo.


Memphis Grizzles v San Antionio Spurs - Game One Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I will always remember the Grit & Grind Grizzlies because of TA & Z-Bo. They made my high school and college years so much more enjoyable. I look forward to telling my future children about the greatness of the Grit & Grind Grizzlies. It will start with telling them about TA’s postgame interview and continue with the many battles against Flop City, and finally wrap up with “First Team All-Defense”. I’ll be proud to mention how well both players took care of the city of Memphis.

Without Z-Bo and TA there is no Grit & Grind and it’s time for the Grizzlies to pay these players the respect they deserve and stop using the phrase in a hollow way.

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