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cx888 Oct 8 '18
MEMPHIS -- The Grizzlies locker room features two consistent soundtracks: self-described comedian Tony Allen?incessantly yapping, playfully barking at anybody, everybody and fairly often himself; and the R-rated rap picked by Zach Randolph that blares from the speakers, a rotation featuring such artists as MoneyBagg Yo, Yo Gotti, Future, Blac Youngsta and Money Man. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Bengals-Boomer-Esiason-Jersey/ .When I play the radio, Im getting everybody up, Randolph says, busting out a big smile. We dancin and everything.Yes, Allen and Randolph are still the faces -- and voices -- of the franchise, even after a busy summer that saw the team make point guard Mike Conley the highest-paid player in the league, sign forward Chandler Parsons to a max deal and bring in former Heat assistant David Fizdale as its new head coach.They are Grit n Grind to a T, Conley says of Allen and Randolph. Theyre the ones who I feel embody that the most, not just on the court, but their lifestyle, how they grew up. Everything about them is hard work. They changed the direction of the franchise. They changed the way were looked at as a team, changed the way were looked at as a city.We put that culture together, Randolph says, referring to the Core Four of Allen, Conley, max-salaried center Marc Gasol and himself. We put that foundation down -- brotherness, no ego s---, everybody together.But as the franchise evolves, its fair to wonder how the Grindfather and Z-Bo fit in Memphis, now and in the future. After all, they are a couple of mid-30s vets in contract years with a team that has $360 million invested in three other players.They know theyll have to adapt and evolve. But they arent planning on leaving behind something they helped create.Grit n Grind here to stay. Real talk, Allen says.Allen, 34, might have a future as the chairman of the Grind City welcome committee. He bursts out of the door to the Grizzlies practice gym, hollers at a visitor he has never before met to follow him and marches to an area that is supposed to be off-limits to outsiders.You in there like swimwear, Allen says.Seated on a couch, the ice pack on his sore right knee bouncing nearly as fast as the words flowing from his mouth, Allen beams as he discusses the franchise and city he loves so much. About 15 minutes in, Allen asks a question of his own:Do you know how the Grit n Grind and all that started?Memphis menacing defensive stopper, a man Kobe Bryant called the best defender he ever faced, doesnt wait for a reply, providing the definitive 714-word answer in only four minutes, 38 seconds.It started from an interview, Allen begins, referring to the first time he got the postgame, on-court interview treatment on a Grizzlies broadcast.Allen then hits rewind to set the scene in the Oklahoma City visitors locker room before Memphis 105-101 overtime win in February 2011, midway through his first season with the Grizzlies. He recalls seething when Rudy Gay was scratched right before pregame warm-ups. Allen, a fringe rotation player at the time, was forced to start. But he was mad because he had done hours of prep work for the task of defending sixth man James Harden, and he suddenly was switched onto the dreaded Kevin Durant assignment with no time to watch film.So Allen put on his headphones and went into KG mode -- a reference to former teammate Kevin Garnett -- talking to himself, working himself into a frenzied focus.Make a long story short, man, I leave the game and I had like 29, 7 and 6 and 5 steals, Allen says, prompting a subtle side-eye from a nearby PR staffer.Hold on, I might have juiced up my stat line! You might have to look it up! Do some research! But I was close!Allens actual stat line that night: 27 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 steals, 3 blocks. Close.But we won, and the first thing the interview man asked me ... I was still upset that Rudy didnt play. I was so pissed off, and I told the reporter as soon as he asked me, like, Yo, Tony Allen, what has got into you? Where did this come from? This was a stellar performance! Allen said, impersonating sideline reporter Rob Fischer.I was so upset that Rudy didnt play and I just spoke the first thing that came out of my mouth because I really did not want to face Kevin Durant [who scored 31 points].I said, It was just all heart! Grit n Grind!That spontaneous statement sparked a fresh identity for a previously irrelevant franchise. It took off with an assist from Memphis media personality Chris Vernon, who recognized the catchphrases potential, immediately booked Allen for a radio appearance and hustled to get T-shirts made. Allen claimed his nickname, Grindfather, as soon as a fan used it in a Twitter reply to him.A new motto for Memphis, now known as Grind City, was born. A new era for the Grizzlies began with an identity that couldnt have been a better fit for the blue-collar city they call home, much less for Allen and Randolph, a couple of Memphis newcomers who grew up hard -- Allen in Chicago, Randolph in Marion, Indiana -- and had rough starts to their NBA careers.Some observers would have considered the idea of Randolph and Allen as tone-setters for a teams culture a frightening thought when they first arrived in Memphis. Their missteps had received as much attention as their basketball accomplishments. Allen, who started his career with Boston, was charged with aggravated battery after a brawl outside a Chicago restaurant in 2005. (He was found not guilty.) Randolph was in trouble more often as a poster boy for Portlands Jail Blazers era.But Randolph became a team leader after arriving in Memphis, while disproving his reputation as someone who put up empty numbers that didnt help his team win. The Grizzlies jumped from 24 to 40 wins in 2009-10 with Randolph carrying the team, averaging 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game and earning his first All-Star nod.After adding Allen, who soaked up wisdom from Bostons Big Three during his Celtics tenure -- seeking to emulate Garnetts loud intensity, Paul Pierces attention to detail and Ray Allens commitment to routine -- the Grizzlies won the first playoff series in franchise history in 2011 and have been postseason participants each season since. Tony Allen claimed All-Defensive honors in all but one campaign.They defined what the team was about, says Gasol, who has blossomed along with Conley from intriguing young talents to franchise centerpieces.Many people in Memphis can relate to the rough upbringings and redemption stories of Allen and Randolph. Thats one reason they have such a unique relationship with Memphis fans, who consider them cult heroes.Youre not given nothin here, Randolph says. You look at Memphis, people gotta work for everything they got here. Im a perfect fit. If you look at things I came through -- work, nothin given to me, hard times -- we come from the same thing. You gotta work for everything you get.As Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace puts it: They just fit in so well and embody this town, which is a great basketball town, but its a tough, blue-collar town.Its a connection Randolph and Allen never want to see interrupted. They see themselves retiring as Grizzlies -- years down the road, to be clear -- and then assuming to-be-determined roles in the organization. Their interest in remaining in Memphis is mutual, from the front office to the fans.They love this city. The city loves them, Conley says. So I couldnt imagine them going anywhere else.Why would I want to leave something that I helped build? Know what I mean? Allen says. I dont see myself nowhere else but with the Grizzlies.For years, Randolph has been solely responsible for the music selection in the Memphis locker room. However, he has allowed one notable exception this season: White Boy Wednesdays, when Parsons gets DJ duties and mixes in a bunch of Justin Bieber, Chainsmokers and, of course, some Justin Timberlake, a minority owner of the Grizzlies.Thats one of Randolphs ways of welcoming Parsons, making sure he feels comfortable in the Grizzlies gritty culture, proving that the proud old vet who took a pay cut on his last contract had no problem embracing the new dude with the $94 million deal.Theyve been awesome, Parsons says. Those two guys, as two foundation pieces of this team, have been so supportive. Any questions, any concerns, anything I needed around this city -- theyre there for me. Thats refreshing. As a guy thats coming in thats not playing [because of injury] and making a lot of money, it could have easily gone the other way. I think it shows a lot about their character and what theyre all about.Randolphs financial sacrifice made it possible for the Grizzlies to sign Parsons while also paying max money to Gasol and Conley. He took less than market value when he signed a two-year, $20 million extension in July 2014.Randolph -- who, like Allen, is represented by agent Raymond Brothers -- tilts his head back and howls in laughter when asked how much money matters when it comes to his commitment to Memphis.Last year, I took an extension for them and took a pay cut for the team, you know what I mean? Randolph says, before turning serious. But this is my organization, and its a lot of love here. Ive got faith in them and theyve got faith in me, too. Ill just leave that at that.Randolph, 35, has already made another major sacrifice in the early going this season, buying into Fizdales vision of him as a sixth man.Hes a better man than me, Gasol says, shaking his head about how well Randolph handled being replaced in the starting lineup by JaMychal Green.Randolph came off the bench in 15 of the 68 games he played last season under former Memphis coach Dave Joerger, but Fizdale is firm that this is a permanent move, fearing that it could create friction if theres any uncertainty. Thats why the coach started Green in the preseason opener and explained his logic in detail to the media the next day, as he had when informing Randolph of the decision.He looks a guy in the eye, Randolph said of Fizdale. A lot of these coaches, they dont tell you why. They cant look me in the eye. He respects you and explains to you why. As a man, you respect that.There is, however, some friction about whether Randolph finishes games. Hes a competitor who wants to be on the floor during crunch time and has been clear about it. Fizdale promises to make only the calls he thinks give the Grizzlies the best chance to win and offer explanations to his players.I will always show the respect to these guys; that this is why I made that decision, says Fizdale, who so far has consistently opted to go with Green when the game is on the line. And whether they agree with it or not, thats their prerogative, but at least they know I broke it down to them why I did it.Randolph didnt agree with Fizdales decision to sit him down the stretch of the Grizzlies season-opening win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Leave me in! Leave me in! he barked to the bench when he saw Gasol go to the scorers table with 7:28 remaining and Randolph at the line. Gasol subbed in for Green, and Randolph continued to dominate the game. He had 9 of his 19 points and 4 of his 11 rebounds in the fourth quarter, eliciting a roar from the FedEx Forum crowd when he ripped one rebound away from a crowd. But then Fizdale pulled Randolph, subbing in Green with 4:53 to go. The proud vet did his best to hide the dismay on his face as he walked to the end of the bench to watch and cheer for the rest of the game.Its tough. Its tough, Randolph says. But theres gonna be some games like that. Hopefully there will be more games that Im in in crunch time. ... As long as we win, thats all that matters.Randolph also praised Green for making some key plays down the stretch, the most important a putback that gave the Grizzlies the lead for good. Z-Bo the competitor wants to play in crunch time. Z-Bo the leader enjoys seeing Green, a third-year player, succeed.Privately and publicly, Fizdale has bluntly stated that nobody would pay Randolph to be a starter at this stage -- hell be a free agent in July, when he turns 36 -- so this is an opportunity to showcase himself in a role he could play the rest of his career. Fizdale wants to play much faster -- which has yet to come to fruition, as the Grizzlies rank in the bottom five in pace again -- so he doesnt want Gasol and Randolph playing the bulk of their minutes together. Green gives the starting lineup better speed and spacing, and Randolph gives the second unit a go-to guy who Fizdale pumps up as the Sixth Man of the Year favorite.Although hes being moved to the bench, his role is being expanded, Fizdale says, and the fact that Randolph is averaging by far his most shots per minute supports that statement. I just dont want to put those guys in a situation where theres not enough basketballs to go around. When you look at our bench, we need him there. I mean, we really need him there. Theres a definitive need for Z-Bo in that second unit, and I think he sees it clearly how its going to work out for him.I really believe its going to make his career expand longer. Hell be able to play at a high level for a lot longer.The Grizzlies also say offseason investments they made in their medical, performance and athletic training departments will help Allen and Randolph extend their careers. Memphis, which set an NBA record by needing to use 28 players last season, revamped the staff and upgraded the technology used by those departments.That doesnt guarantee good health, of course. Allen missed the entire preseason and first three games of the regular season while nursing his right knee, as the team took a cautious approach with their glue guy. But he has shown no signs of diminished ability as a lockdown defender.Tony is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and I dont want to lose that one bit, Fizdale says, explaining why Allens spot in the starting lineup is secure.Randolph jokes that hell be out here like Kevin Willis, referring to the fellow Michigan State alum who played his last NBA game at age 44. Wallace agrees that Randolphs game will continue to age particularly well because it isnt predicated on athleticism, noting that Randolphs extraordinary hands and ability to create leverage like an offensive lineman arent likely to decline.I aint no high-flier, Randolph says. Hit em with that rear end and throw em off their spot. I keep it simple.Allen and Randolph arent ready to ride into the Beale Street sunset. They plan to build on the success of the past six seasons, help accomplish more firsts for the franchise. However, their legacies are already secure and could one day be reflected by the Grizzlies retiring their numbers.I look up and see -- I dont think we have any jerseys up there now! Wallace says, chuckling as he glances up at the vacant rafters in FedEx Forum. Weve not really delved into that subject. Considering the fact that we havent, I would say that theyd be under strong consideration. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Bengals-Keivarae-Russell-Jersey/ .com) - Following a late-game loss to the reigning NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors will look to sustain their recent high-level play as they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Bengals-Adam-Jones-Jersey/ . "Were just throwing s--- at the wall hoping something sticks," said Tortorella about the possible line combinations for Fridays game against Columbus. The Canucks have lost five straight games and six of their last seven, leaving them in a logjam in the Pacific Division, currently sitting fifth - good for ninth in the Western Conference. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Bengals-Jeremy-Hill-Jersey/ . 1 position. The Mustangs (6-0), who beat Queens 50-31 last weekend, earned 17 first-place votes and 287 points in voting by the Football Reporters of Canada. Western was last ranked first in the country in October 2011. Australia have admitted they were sent into a lather by Faf du Plessis crafty declaration on the first evening of the Adelaide Test, a call that left Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja fuming as David Warner was unable to take his usual spot as an opener after spending time off the field.Warner complained of shoulder pain and went for treatment late in South Africas innings, but upon overhearing that the opener needed to spend a further six minutes on the field, du Plessis closed his innings. I listened to the conversation he had with the umpires, one ear talking to the batter and one ear listening to him and then I heard he had six minutes left before he could bat again so I thought lets have a crack, du Plessis said.Warner and Smith both remonstrated with the umpires on their way off the field, with du Plessis closure the earliest in terms of overs in the first innings of a Test unaffected by bad weather. He went off for some treatment towards the end and was off for too long, Josh Hazlewood said of Warner. So they messed their timings up and he couldnt bat straight away. Uzzy had to bat and adapted pretty well and we got through. http://www.bengalsrookiestore.com/Customized/. The guys were a little bit annoyed, especially Smithy and probably Uzzy who had to go out and bat, but its just one of those things. It rarely happens, but it happened today and the way Uzzy adapted to the situation he did a great job for us today.Hazlewood confirmed it was up to Warner to ensure he was not caught out in this way, and said the team would likely receive an apology from the vice-captain as a result. Its probably the player himself, he said. You know the rules and he was just off the field for too long. Hell hold himself accountable, thats how Davey goes, so hell know he did the wrong thing, apologise to the group and especially Usman, and hell learn from it and hopefully it wont happen again.As for du Plessis, Hazlewood could only doff his cap. I think he mightve had a rough idea, yeah, he said. Hes quite cagey like that, pulled the pin and declared and caught us out a little bit. 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