The Memphis Grizzlies announced last week the official dates in which they are retiring the jersey numbers 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— First up is Z-Bo.
5. Memphis Donations
Z-Bo was great for the Grizzlies on the court, but he impacted so many more lives off the court while playing in Memphis (and even after). Randolph donated thousands of dollars each year in his 8 seasons in Memphis and continued to do so after his Grizzlies tenure ended in 2017. Whether it was the annual payment of MLGW bills for Memphis residents, the thousands donated to the Mid-South food bank to provide a mobile food pantry for local youth, or the meals donated and delivered on Thanksgiving, Randolph gave back to the Memphis community any chance he could from 2009 and is still giving back to this day. As great as Z-Bo was as the bully on the block, it wouldn’t be doing him justice to not mention his numerous off court contributions.
4. A Blue Collar Player
Zach Randolph embodied the city of Memphis arguably more than any other player in franchise history. Randolph had essentially been given up on when he was traded to Memphis, but he kept his head down and kept working and obviously became a top player in franchise history. Back in 2011, Z-Bo was asked by Doris Burke about the city of Memphis and in return Z-Bo gave one of his legendary quotes. “I love this city. They love me back. It’s a blue-collar town, and I’m a blue-collar player, a hard-worker. Nothing’s been given easily to me, and nothing’s been given easily to this town. It’s a fit.”
The quote by Z-Bo connected him even more with the city as the Grizzlies were coming off their first ever playoff series win. The 8-seeded Grizzlies upset the 1-seeded Spurs.
3. We Don’t Bluff
Another fantastic Z-Bo quote. In 2012 Z-Bo and OKC big man (and now Grizzlies fan) Kendrick Perkins had a history of run-ins on the court. It may have been an early season game in mid-November but both Perkins and Z-Bo were amped up from the jump. The two were talking to each other all game and as Russell Westbrook was shooting free throws with 2 minutes left, you can hear Randolph tell Perkins “I’ll beat your ass” which prompted both players to get ejected from the game. Asked afterword's, Z-Bo answered questions about the altercation finishing with “There’s a lot of bluffin’ going on the court, that’s all, you know. And I don’t bluff.”
The Grizzlies turned it into “We Don’t Bluff” and it’s become a rallying cry and anthem for Grizzlies fans throughout the years any time there is an altercation or even if there’s a big game or playoff game.
2. Z-Bo vs. the Clippers
The Lob City Clippers and Grit & Grind Grizzlies had one of the most underrated rivalries in the NBA for roughly 5-6 years, with Z-Bo and Blake Griffin at the center of it. Although I could probably spend an entire article discussing the rivalry, the 2013 triumph is probably Z-Bo’s greatest moment in the showdown. In Game 6, we have the famous wrestling match between Blake Griffin and Z-Bo that ends with Z-Bo on top of Griffin and his hand around his throat.
The video, particularly the still frame with Griffin looking like he’s crying, instantly became a fan favorite in Memphis due to the rivalry and Memphis’ strong dislike for Griffin. Things get even better towards the end of the game as Z-Bo gets ejected for talking trash to the Clippers bench as the Grizzlies had the series all but wrapped up. On his way to the Grizzlies tunnel, Z-Bo famously celebrates with Tony Allen who lifts up the “Memphis” on his jersey while Z-Bo pumps up the crowd to celebrate the series win as he made his way to the locker room.
The scene in FedExForum that night was a top moment in the rivalry, for the Grizzlies, and for Z-Bo as well.
1. The Spurs series
Z-Bo’s welcoming party was arguably his best moment as a Grizzly. Leading the Grizzlies to their first playoff win and series win, Z-Bo averaged 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Grizzlies in their upset over the Spurs. Z-Bo bullied Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess in the series and really put the Grizzlies on the radar for everyone outside of Memphis. The series, as a whole, really started the foundation for the GNG Grizzlies playoff runs, with no moment bigger than Z-Bo’s clutch 3-pointer to put the Spurs away in Game 3.
There are plenty of iconic Z-Bo moments in Memphis, but his performance against the Spurs in 2011 set the stage for years of success.
It’s truly difficult to really rank the moments for someone who means so much to the Grizzlies organization. Z-Bo was a key factor in making the Grizzlies relevant for the first time since Pau Gasol played in Memphis and he is rightfully getting his jersey retired by the organization.
Be sure to fill up the comment section with your favorite Z-Bo moments, especially any that didn’t make the list!