Memphis Grizzlies Mount Rushmore
OTG Basketball presents, NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next, is the Memphis Grizzlies.
This franchise began their time in the NBA in the Pacific Northwest in Vancouver. The team spent their first six seasons in Canada and let's just say that they did not win very much. The team moved to Memphis at the start of the 2001 season and the franchise found success making the playoffs for three straight years from 2003-2006. However, they failed to win a playoff game and the team seemed like they would never turn it around after trading away Paul Gasol for nothing to the Lakers. However, these four guys changed the franchise and made a city fall in love with the Grizzlies.
Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Marc Gasol
The Grit n' Grind Grizzlies ushered in the most successful period in the history of the franchise. The team made the playoffs seven consecutive seasons with a trip to the conference finals in 2013. The great thing about this group of guys is that they truly represented the city that they called home. The team's rugged play matched well with the blue collar feel of Memphis.
Mike Conley does not have a great deal of individual accolades from his successful stint with Memphis. He never made an All-Star team or an All-NBA team. He never led the league in any important statistical category. Despite these things that he never did, Conley was the driving force for this team. He gave up shots and stats for the good of the team. He provided the team with a steady hand and great perimeter defense during his time in Memphis. He goes down as the franchise's all-time leader in games, steals, points, and assists.
Zach Randolph's start to his NBA career was tough. He spent six seasons with the Blazers before being traded three consecutive years. He ended up in Memphis and things just clicked for Z-Bo. He made the All-Star team in his first season in Memphis and helped the team turn around. The Grizzlies improved by 16 games in his first season. However, his second season with the team is what immortalized him to the city. Randolph put up a 20 and 12 every night and helped get the Grizzlies their first playoff wins in franchise history as they shocked the San Antonio Spurs in the 1st round of the playoffs before falling to the Thunder in 7 games. Randolph was incredible in those playoffs putting up 31 points in a game 6 win over the Spurs in Memphis. Z-Bo would go on to have more incredible moments for the franchise over the course of their most successful period of time. Randolph was a huge part of Grit n' Grind.
Tony Allen was not only dubbed 'The Grindfather' in Memphis, he was the man that coined the term Grit n' Grind. Allen's tenacious defensive play was a hallmark for those amazing Grizzly teams. While Tony Allen was never going to be an All-Star, he found ways to influence winning for the franchise. Allen was 1st or 2nd team All-Defense for six of his seven years playing for the Grizzlies. His all-out effort and his toughness were greatly appreciated by the people in Memphis and while Tony Allen's stats will never stick out, he is revered in Memphis for what he meant to the city as the Grindfather.
Marc Gasol is the most decorated player in franchise history. Gasol was named to the All-Star team three times, won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2013, and was named to the All-NBA team twice (2013 2nd team, 2015 1st team). Despite all of this success, Gasol was near and dear to the people of Memphis because he spent his teenage years living in Memphis with his older brother Pau, who happened to be a member of the Grizzlies. Pau was even traded to the Lakers for Marc. Gasol's history with Memphis and his success individually and with the Grit n' Grind Grizzlies make him an easy pick for the team's Mount Rushmore.