When my favorite player is kicked out the door by my favorite team, there are a lot of emotions involved. For my Fastbreak Breakfast co-host Jon (@masterjonburr), the main emotion is sputtering rage, which kicks in at about the two minute mark of our latest episode. You can make an argument that the Grizzlies needed to move on from Tony Allen for basketball reasons. And after cramming their roster with other guards this summer, we knew he wasn’t coming back. But you’re still going to be hard-pressed to convince us that bringing The Grindfather back on a minimum contract wouldn’t help Memphis make the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
That run of playoff appearances began when Allen came to Memphis. His insertion into the lineup filling in for an ‘under the weather’ (wink wink) O.J. Mayo against the Thunder in 2011 was a catalyst for the Grizzlies starting this current playoff run. And not only did he provide 27 points and 5 steals on that night, he branded the entire franchise when he uttered “All heart. Grit. Grind.” in a postgame interview. The Ringer’s Chris Vernon, who deserves massive amounts of credit for the cult of Tony Allen, details this history very well in his own podcast tribute.
So now it’s up to a misfit collection of Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Troy Daniels and Wayne Selden to step up. The Grizzlies front office made the tough decision to move on. Will it turn out to be the right choice? It could take years to know.
Opening night, when Allen’s new team the Pelicans come to FedExForum, will be awkward. If TA forces a turnover and signals first down or gets a steal and barks “FIRST TEAM” at the Grizzlies bench won’t the crowd go nuts?
I’m pretty sure I will.
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