Earlier this summer, when the Memphis Grizzlies announced that they would retire Zach Randolph’s No. 50, everyone knew it was the appropriate thing to do. The questions, at the time, were: Would Tony Allen be returning to the team? And if not, would the team retire his No. 9 jersey as well?
Well, Allen returns to Memphis tonight as a New Orleans Pelican in the final preseason game before these two teams tip off the regular season next Wednesday. And Thursday, the franchise announced its intentions to retire Allen’s jersey. And in talking to media in New Orleans, Allen clearly got emotional.
“I ain’t trying to tear up,” Allen said as he teared up. “I’m just appreciative.”
Asked about his motivations in Memphis . . .
“I wasn’t doing it for no notoriety. I never was trying to be in your paper, your latest magazine,” Allen said. “I was doing it just to play hard, playing the right way, trying to win. I never cared about the fanciness, the All-Star Games. All I wanted to be known for was to be one of the greatest defenders ever to play the game. I just want to thank Memphis for allowing me the opportunity to play the game . . .”
He trails off.
“. . . that’s it,” Allen said, welling up before turning away from the camera.