The Memphis Grizzlies announced last week the official dates in which they are retiring the jerseys of two members of the Core Four this upcoming season. Zach Randolph will get his jersey retired on December 11th when the Houston Rockets come to FedExForum, while Tony Allen will see his jersey hung in the FedExForum rafters on January 28th when Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz come to Memphis.
With the upcoming jersey retirements this season, fans will reminisce on the many memories sparked by both Z-Bo and TA in their years in a Grizzlies uniform. Although it is nearly impossible to rank everything these two have done for the city of Memphis, here is an attempt at ranking their Top-5 moments in Memphis— I covered Z-Bo yesterday. Next up is the Grindfather.
5. Tony plays soccer
The Grizzlies and Clippers had a heated rivalry with the Clippers throughout the greater part of the GNG years. It was Z-Bo and Blake Griffin down low, and then it was Chris Paul and TA on the perimeter. In an early season matchup in 2013, CP3 sliced his way through the Grizzlies defense with a nice move but was met in the paint by Tony Allen’s foot stopping his drive. The kick to CP3’s grill was an accident by the Grindfather, who was trying to cut off the pass while also staying in front of CP3. Allen was ejected with a flagrant-2 foul, but left Grizzlies fans with a moment they’ll love to never forget.
4. The first playoffs
Tony Allen was never shy to hide his emotions and that wasn’t any less true on April 8, 2011 when the Grizzlies clinched their first playoff appearance in 5 years and the first for the GNG Grizzlies. After Z-Bo grabbed the rebound with seconds left, it all hit the team they were going to the playoffs. In celebration, TA couldn’t even stand at half-court as he reacted to clinching a playoff spot. TA curled up at half-court just pounding in excitement and then made sure to flex the “Grizzlies” on his jersey after the final horn, a move that become a TA special. TA letting his emotions fly during the tail end of this game showed how much TA cared about the game and the Grizzlies, and set the tone for many seasons of fun and excitement.
3. High Praise from the Mamba
So I’m cheating a little bit with this one as it also includes Tony’s time in Boston with the Celtics, but in various interviews throughout the tail end of his career, NBA Legend Kobe Bryant claimed that Tony Allen was the toughest defender he had faced in his career. He joked about how TA was the only one who was never crying for help or looking over his shoulder. Such high praise from one of the NBA’s All-Time bests is just one of the ways TA was appreciated throughout the league on the defensive end. In his final season, Kobe gifted TA with signed shoe’s to “the best defender I ever faced!”.
2. First Team All Defense
Tony Allen was a defensive menace for the Grizzlies throughout his Memphis career, making the NBA All-Defensive teams 6 times in his 7-year Grizzlies career. It was highlighted though against the Warriors in the playoffs in 2015. TA was mic’d up for the game and putting Klay Thompson through hell the entire series. TA had a stretch where he forced two turnovers, and then trademarked his “First Team All Defense” claims as the Grizzlies made life extremely difficult for the eventual NBA Champions.
1. Grit & Grind
The Grit and Grind Grizzlies weren’t created overnight. It wasn’t a clever marketing campaign by the organization or something the creative team put together. Instead, the greatest era in Grizzlies history (so far) got their nickname from Tony Allen in a post game interview in 2011. TA came back from injury was inserted in the starting lineup against the OKC Thunder. TA worked his tail off defensively, but stepped up big time on the offensive end scoring 27 points while also chipping in 5 steals and 3 blocks earning him the postgame interview with Rob Fischer. In the interview, TA credited the win to “All Heart. Grit. Grind.” coining the “Grit & Grind” slogan that followed the Core Four throughout their Grizzlies run and still impacts the team today.
The quote was one of the firsts of many entertaining post game interviews from Allen, but it’s still crazy to think what one phrase from 2011 turned into. To make things even better, Allen later admitted that the quote started as a jab at teammate Rudy Gay who sat out the game with a toe injury.
Tony Allen will go down in Grizzlies fame for being the best perimeter defender in Grizzlies history, and being the heart and soul of those GNG squads. TA played with his emotions and was quickly embraced by Grizzlies fans. Picking just 5 moments from his 7 seasons in Memphis was difficult, but naturally brings back plenty of fun memories. Allen had a handful of signature moves with the Grizzlies. He always loved to flex whether it be his jersey or his arms in celebration of plays. My personal favorite TA move, however, was his many variations of his turnover dance.
Let me know in the comments below your favorite TA memories, especially any that I may have missed!