Here at GBB, our writers are driven by a passion for the Memphis Grizzlies. No one who writes for this site is paid “fairly” compared to the time that they put in to the content that makes our site what it is. Some of our writers aren’t paid at all, researching and working on their writing skills for a love of the craft...and a love of the Grizzlies.
That all started somewhere. That level of fandom usually begins with a player.
We decided to reach out to our staff during these tough times and allow for them to reflect on the Grizzlies players that brought them to the party, so to speak. The ones that made them fall hard for professional basketball in Memphis. It is easy to say that it’s about the name on the front of the jersey and not the back that matters. That ignores, to an extent, the people that bring those colors to life.
So here are some of our writers describing their favorite Grizzlies of all time. Enjoy!
GBB SITE MANAGER JOE MULLINAX: When I first really started paying attention to the Memphis Grizzlies in the spring of 2011, I was drawn in especially by Marc Gasol. He didn’t look like your typical NBA player - he was...in a word, pudgy. But his skill was very clear - he defensively was a force, anchoring a unit for Memphis that was causing all sorts of issues for the Spurs in that now iconic playoff series. Offensively he found open teammates and played a style that was more about what was best for the greater good...sometimes even at his own expense.
Throughout his time as a member of the Grizzlies, that was his gift and curse. The highest highs were because of him, and often times the lowest lows were also his doing...or lack of doing. But he was always consistent with what his goal was - playing the game the right way. While maybe more “Wendigo” should’ve been shown at times considering Marc was the best player on the Grizzlies starting with the 2012-2013 season, he still provided plenty of moments and inspired play that directly aided the Grit and Grind Era.
And, he got less pudgy. Giving me hope to do the same. All this adds up to Marc Gasol being my favorite Grizzlies player ever.
GBB WRITER BRENDAN SMART: The Grizzlies were taking on the San Antonio Spurs at FedExForum in Memphis on April 18th, 2005. If you were around, you know how great the Spurs and Mavericks in particular were. On that April night, it felt like a lot of frustration was getting released by the Grizzlies, especially Mike Miller.
Three coaching changes in that season, ending with a 47-35 record (8th seed), riding a four game losing streak, but that night was so special for me as a Grizzly fan.
This was way before the Grizzlies were “good” but were good enough for nine year old me. Playing the ‘dynasty’ of the Western Conference in the San Antonio Spurs, two nights after getting destroyed in San Antonio by 22. Memphis bounced back. They dominated the first two quarters of action, but the Spurs fought their way back into the game, and with 1.4 remaining in regulation, the Grizzlies called timeout to go over their game winning play,
Stromile Swift, Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Pau Gasol, and Mike Miller to the floor. Williams was to inbound the ball as Swift stood directly in front of him. Swift, being a lob threat, sprinted towards a group at the rim. As Swift entered the paint, Spurs Forward Tim Duncan mistakenly took swift as number 33 raced towards the wing to the right of Miller.
Miller sank the 22 foot jump shot, and ended the Grizzlies four game losing streak. It was a night I’ll never forget because I didn’t know what stood ahead of this franchise, but in that moment the pain washed away, and Miller was celebrating with his Grizzly teammates at the free throw line.
That’s why Mike Miller is my All-Time favorite Grizzly.
GBB ASSOCIATE EDITOR JACK NOONAN: As most people know, the Grizzlies are not my NBA team. I look to bring a neutral voice to the blog with some semblance of balance in most of my breakdown and analysis. Because of that, I tweaked this question a bit because I never really had a favorite Grizzly player. Now, with that said, my favorite era of Grizzlies basketball as a whole was the real introduction of Grit and Grind basketball to the NBA. This style of play completely changed the way the league looked at defense. Of course, there were the solid defensive players on a few rosters, but no team rallied around a brand of basketball like these Grizzlies.
This era and brand was right up my wheelhouse because I always appreciated a low scoring defensive battle. The players wore this skill as a badge of honor. The Grit and Grind era was one that I will never forget and truly look back in appreciation for what it did for the NBA and the city of Memphis
GBB WRITER LAUREN HARVEY: My all-time favorite Grizzly is Mike Conley. I usually gravitate towards point guards as my favorite NBA players and appreciated the slow burn of Conley’s career-going from a guy who was questioned as a franchise point guard for many years to being offered a max contract. The narrative of Conley as underrated grew tiresome but that didn’t make it less true. But the moment that sealed it for me was the broken face game. He went through hell just to be able to play and then out dueled arguably a top five guard of all time. O Captain My Captain.
GBB ASSOCIATE EDITOR PARKER FLEMING: Mike Miller is my all-time favorite Memphis Grizzly, and it’ll probably take a whole lot to change that. He played basketball the right way. He was an elite shooter with an underrated ability to rebound from the guard spot, facilitate the offense, and play within a team defense. Hearing the crowd whenever the ball left his hands from 3 was mesmerizing. More importantly, he was an awesome dude.
When I was in 1st grade, his sons went to the nursery school there, and my aunt was their teacher. So through that, I had opportunities to meet him outside of basketball - my mom would even pull me from class to see him whenever he picked up his sons. His style of play and his genuine personality made me fall in love with basketball, as it formed my basketball skillset and drew me into the Memphis Grizzlies.
GBB SENIOR WRITER MCCARTY MAXWELL: Tony Allen comes to mind first. I think with a lot of Grizz fans, the last decade has been special. There are a lot of players that defined memories or a sense of pride in the Memphis Grizzlies. Yet Tony Allen is the Grindfather, the one who established the brand of basketball that the Grizzlies were known for, a brand that allowed them to compete at the highest level while building one of the most dedicated fan bases in the league.
To think that Tony Allen became the face of a team for the most selfless style of basketball the NBA has to offer made him that much more lovable. He became a legend in Memphis by putting the spotlight on hard work, defense, and team before self. Tony Allen made Memphis a winning basketball city when it, and I, needed it the most. He is my all-time favorite Grizzly player because he didn’t care about being anyone’s all-time favorite, he just wanted to win for his city and the fans. That’s my kind of guy.
GBB SENIOR WRITER BRANDON ABRAHAM: Mike Miller is my all-time favorite Grizzly. Being a 3-point sniper, Mike played similar to the way I did growing up (or at least imagine I did). He was one of the first players of my lifetime to fully embrace Memphis and make it home. From his second stint with the Grizzlies, choosing to play in Memphis over a KD and Westbrook led Thunder team to his success as an assistant coach on the Memphis Tigers basketball team, Mike has made Memphis his home and has been a good role model for those who grew up before the Core 4 era.
GBB WRITER DARREN JEANS: My favorite all time Grizzly is Jason Williams. My parents were season tickets holders since the inaugural season. I can remember when they put in the season ticket holders party to celebrate the season ticket holders and thank them for the support. One year, it was at Putt-Putt Golf and Games. Jason Williams was like a rock star to me. When I played basketball in middle school, I would wear the knee guards like him, and being the ball up the court like him. While at Putt-Putt, he saw I was playing the basketball hoop challenge by myself. He came over and asked, “Mind if I join?” I obviously said yes. I also beat him 25-22. But I could tell he let up towards the end of the match. He’s always been my favorite player, and for that reason, continues to be my favorite Grizz of all time.
GBB WRITER EDMEMPHIS: I must go with Zach Randolph, but not just for obvious reasons such as on the court or even in the locker room. Zach is bigger than basketball. What most don’t know is that Zach was already apart of the Memphis community before he was traded to Memphis. In fact, it may have even played a part in how easy the transaction was made. Zach touched the streets. He kissed babies from 7th street to Poplar Pike. He took the initiative to pay thousands of dollars in MLGW past due balances for struggling families in the community. He participated in many food toy & clothing drives on a consistent basis along with providing many jobs & opportunity for citizens in the city.
Zach also invested in the Memphis Music scene heavily & there might not even be a Money Bagg Yo as is today if not for the generosity & vision of Randolph. The first time I met Zach Randolph, I was standing on the sidelines during a shoot around before tip-off & Zach walked up to me & tapped me on the shoulder & said “what’s up mane” to which I responded “Pretty Much Love” He smiled & proceeded to shoot around. I have several other stories of folks who are from core sectors of the Memphis community, who have great personal Zach Randolph experiences. You see, certain folks touch certain pavements in certain ways & thus make certain impressions that last a lifetime. Zach did this every where he went & this makes him my favorite Grizzlies player of all time, aside from the NBA stuff itself.
GBB WRITER JORDAN PETERSON: Historically, my favorite Grizzly player is Pau Gasol. So much so, in fact, that I named the family cat after him in high school. When I started going to live games in the early days, I was struck most by how funny I thought he looked running down the court. Then I started focusing on his actual contributions and participated in many debates defending his honor against folks demanding he was not the superstar we needed. Don’t tell my high school comrades, but I was wrong and blinded by loyalty.
Who is your favorite Grizzlies player of all time? Reply in the comments below. Thank you for continuing to make GBB a part of your Grizzlies experience during these times, it is appreciated.