The Grizzlies' 'Grit and Grind' slogan started as a subtle jab at Rudy Gay
The Grizzlies famous motto was initially a shot at a teammate
The Grizzlies' Grit and Grind era is something many NBA fans will forever remember. It was something that defined Memphis and gave an irrelevant franchise an identity. Of course, with all great moments in NBA history, there's a weird story behind the origins of the Grit and Grind era.
Turns out, all of this started when Rudy Gay chose to sit out a game with a toe injury. Tony Allen was furious with Gay and went out to play one of the best games of his career. Still angry, Allen delivered a subtle shot towards Gay in the postgame interview. He told all of this to Tom Westerholm of Mass Live.
"To make a long story short, we win," Allen said. "Y'all can YouTube this too, in case you think it's fabricated. I was so upset with Rudy for not playing ... I end up having 27 points, eight rebounds and like five steals. Mind you, I hadn't played in 22-some-odd games, and this is to let you know how in shape I was. Durant had like 35, but they lost. When they gave me my interview, the first thing I said was, 'It's just all heart. Grit and grind.' That's how that phrase blossomed in Memphis. I was still upset. That was really a jab at Rudy Gay. But he's my man today, I've forgiven him for that. But yeah, that's where it started at in Memphis."
Team identities are born in strange ways. It's not always well thought out and planned, but it's pretty funny how the entire identity of the Grizzlies was born from Allen being angry at Gay. Sadly, that era is likely over now with Allen still unsigned and other prominent members of that era in new locations.
What about Gay? Was he in on the joke. Apparently not.
They're still cool though.
Long live Grit and Grind. It never won a championship, but it gave Memphis an identity that made them different from the rest of the NBA and it was a lot of fun to witness.
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