By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)
After spending seven seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Tony Allen is reportedly moving south. Though his run with the Grizz is now over, the Grindfather leaves a lasting impression with all Memphians.
In what has been a bittersweet offseason for the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday was no different.
First it was Vince Carter, and even more significantly, Zach Randolph, signing with the Sacramento Kings. Carter, a fan favorite, and Randolph, the face of the franchise for the past eight seasons, were tough losses to say the least.
Now, the inevitable continues to fly toward Grizz Nation.
It was considered to be a long shot for Memphis to retain more than one of their free-agents in the summer of 2017. After signing Marc Gasol, Chandler Parsons, and Mike Conley to maximum contracts in recent years, the Grizz have run out of cash to spend. They have been forced to round out their roster with young guns and bargain deals.
These will not be your typical Grizzlies -- especially after Monday's news.
Shams Charania of "The Vertical" was the first to announce Tony Allen's movement toward finalizing a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Brian Windhorst of ESPN states "Tony Allen has agreed to a one-year, $2.3 million deal" with the Pelicans, to be exact.
Allen has been a major bang-for-buck player for the Grizzlies. With Memphis only offering a deal around the value of a veteran's minimum contract to No. 9, enough is enough. Receiving a slightly higher dollar amount from New Orleans was not the only contributing factor to his decision. Tony's role on the Grizzlies' roster was shrinking, but he has fallen into a larger opportunity with the Pelicans.
In joining New Orleans, Tony Allen will be staying within the NBA's Southwest Division. He will be closely battling his former Grizz teammates for playoff positioning while being led by a tandem of brutes (Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins) in the paint -- something that has become quite familiar to him. Not to mention, reuniting with his championship point guard -- Rajon Rondo -- was probably the final selling point.
Looking back at TA's seven seasons in a Grizzlies uniform, he provided some of the best perimeter defense the sport of basketball has ever seen.
In his Boston Celtics days, Tony made a name for himself. However, upon signing with the Grizzlies in the summer of 2010, he took the major leap to becoming known across the globe for his defensive prowess.
Formerly the Kobe-stopper, Tony became the guy Kevin Durant feared when Oklahoma City faced Memphis. The Grindfather literally clawed his way to six NBA All-Defensive selections in his seven years on Beale Street.
This leads to the impact Tony Allen made on the court while donning a Grizzlies jersey. It may have been a turning of the tides when Zach Randolph became a Grizzly one year before Tony, but No. 9 was the difference-maker in making Memphis a playoff team in the almighty Western Conference.
Tony was a real catalyst -- along with Randolph's MVP-caliber offense -- in taking down the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. This remains one of the greatest upsets in NBA history.
The rise of the Grindfather led to the demise of Rudy Gay in Memphis. Gay went from being the clearcut leader of the squad to being completely expendable. It all began with the infamous quote by Tony, "all heart. Grit. Grind." From that point forward, the Grizzlies were achieving their highest peak in franchise history.
While these are some of the brightest moments of Tony Allen's seven-year tenure in the 901, you cannot forget these gems:
The list goes on. Tony Allen was exceptionally likable with the Memphis Grizzlies. Just like Randolph, the city of Memphis plus Tony Allen was a perfect match.
Prior to adding Allen in 2010, the Grizzlies franchise had experienced just four seasons of 40+ wins. None of these came during their Vancouver days. Under Tony Allen's guidance, Memphis has achieved no fewer than 40 victories.
Simply put, Tony Allen is a winning basketball player -- both on and off the court. It is proven that great things happen when defense is a priority. Off the hardwood, the Grindfather was always greeting fans, mentoring youth and the troubled, giving back selflessly during the holidays, and much more.
"Tough" is an understatement when thinking about Tony Allen grinding for a different club. He may not have been born in M-Town, but he certainly changed the culture for the better.
Zach Randolph may have been the face of the franchise. But TA was the culture.
The "Core Four" in Memphis, Tennessee is finally down to two -- Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. With this being said, a new era of Grizzlies basketball is upon us. It is scary to think about because it is unknown how the which direction the team will trend in 2017-18.
"Thanks for the memories" is not enough for our Grindfather. With all of the contributions and sacrifices Tony Allen not only made for the Grizzlies, but for the city of Memphis as a whole, the Grindfather deserves a major token of appreciation. Much like Z-Bo, this man has earned a statue in front of the FedEx Forum.
After all, without Tony Allen, it would have never been "The Grindhouse."
Farewell, Master of the Grit & Grind. You will forever be "First Team" in the hearts of all Memphians.