Everyone loved the Core Four of the Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph.
They were the heart and soul of the “Grit and Grind” teams that caused legitimate consternation to their NBA opponents.
Two pillars of that core, Allen and Randolph, saw a Grizzlies’ promise fulfilled Wednesday (Sept. 1) when the team announced the players’ jersey numbers will be retired.
Allen’s No. 9 and Randolph’s No. 50 will hang from the FedExForum’s rafters as a tribute the pair’s role during the “Grit and Grind” era. Team officials said both will be the first retired jerseys in franchise history.
Randolph’s jersey will be retired Dec. 11 during a game against the Houston Rockets and Allen’s on Jan. 28 during the game against the Utah Jazz, on which Conley is a member. Both games will be at the FedExForum.
Allen and Randolph (aka Z-Bo) have finished their NBA playing days and have been named ambassadors for the Grizzlies. Easily recognizable at games, they continue to warm the hearts of the team’s faithful.
Allen, who played for the Grizzlies from 2010-17, is credited with coining the terms “Grindhouse” and “Grit and Grind,” and proudly bears the nickname “Grindfather.”
He played 15 seasons, making the NBA All-Defense team six times, including first-team three times. He won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Randolph’s classic smile and blue-collar work ethic resonated throughout all quarters of Memphis. His community service included helping those in need with utility bills.
On the court, he was known to step up for his teammates when opponents pushed the limits of physicality. He became endeared to Memphis fans when he uttered the phrase “I don’t bluff” in association with an altercation with then-NBA big man Kendrick Perkins.
Later, that utterance became the fan mantra “We don’t bluff.”
The two-time NBA All-Star played for the Michigan State Spartans before being drafted in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He played in Memphis from 2009-17 and for five teams over the course of his career, making the All-NBA Third Team in 2011 with the Grizzlies.