The Memphis Grizzlies’ “Grit and Grind” slogan has become well known over the past decade in the NBA, as it indicates their physical style of play that was predicated on interior scoring and hard-nosed defense.
But apparently, the slogan didn’t come into being as a way to galvanize the team.
Former Boston Celtics and Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who was dubbed “The Grindfather” during his years in Memphis, was the first to utter the phrase “grit and grind.” And he did it as a shot at then teammate Rudy Gay.
During Allen’s first season with the Grizzlies, Gay sat out a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sore toe. And Allen wasn’t a big fan of that decision.
“Rudy Gay said ‘I’m not playing this game, my toe hurts,'” Allen said, per Mass Live’s Tom Westerholm. “‘I said, your toe hurt? Your toe hurt? You just did a windmill dunk last night, your toe wasn’t …’ I said ‘Alright, your toe hurt.'”
Allen finished the game with 27 points and five steals in a Grizzlies’ win, and afterward, he uttered the famous phrase in a postgame interview.
“To make a long story short, we win,” Allen said. “Y’all can YouTube this too, in case you think it’s fabricated. I was so upset with Rudy for not playing … I end up having 27 points, eight rebounds and like five steals. Mind you, I hadn’t played in 22-some-odd games, and this is to let you know how in shape I was. (Kevin) Durant had like 35, but they lost. When they gave me my interview, the first thing I said was, ‘It’s just all heart. Grit and grind.’ That’s how that phrase blossomed in Memphis. I was still upset. That was really a jab at Rudy Gay. But he’s my man today, I’ve forgiven him for that. But yeah, that’s where it started at in Memphis.”
While a little research shows Allen had four rebounds, not eight, and had played the night before, his request to check YouTube did show him uttering the phrase during the postgame interview.
Allen now is a free agent, but the Grizzlies did honor “The Grindfather” with a cool promotion before his exit from the franchise.
Thumbnail photo via Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports Images
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