The city of Memphis fell in love a long time ago with the hometown team, Memphis Grizzlies. Now, a little over a decade after the team arrived in Memphis, the national media is paying closer attention to this gritting, grinding group of players.
On Thursday, January 11th, the Grizzlies’ starting lineup made the cover of SLAM Magazine. a national source for basketball news.
“It means a lot to get that respect as a team and to be on the cover,” said swing man, Rudy Gay. “SLAM is a magazine that a lot of kids read growing up when you want to be something. It is definitely an honor.”
The Grizzlies starting lineup is becoming widely regarded as one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.
At point guard, Mike Conley is the facilitator. He manages the game very effectively, and is an often underrated defender. His contributions are most noticeable in the games he misses and the team is out of sync.
At shooting guard, Tony Allen gives tough one-on-one perimeter defense, earning him Defensive All-NBA First Team honors last season. He is the father of the Memphis Grizzlies “grit and grind” mantra.
At small-forward, Rudy Gay is a versatile wing man who can score in many different ways. He is the Grizzlies’ most athletic and best scorer.
And then down low in the paint are the two beasts, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who can both score posted up or with their nice mid-range jump shot. They bang down low for rebounds and scores. This low post tandem is what makes the Grizzlies unique.
It has taken a long time for NBA fans to warm up to the Grizzlies’ talented five. Being a fan of a small-market team like the Grizzlies is frustrating at times. Big name players are always very reluctant to sign, such as Ray Allen this offseason, who took a smaller contract to play in Miami.
ESPN and other national media tend to focus more on how bad teams such as the LA Lakers are doing rather than how well a team like the Grizzlies is doing.
But with all of that frustration comes reward. It means more to us Memphis fans when our small market team makes the playoffs. It means even more to us small-market Memphis fans when the Grizzlies make a deep run in the playoffs. It means more to us to watch those Lakers fans in their yellow and purple jerseys leave the FedEx Forum before the game is over because the Grizzlies are about to win the game. And it also means more to us when we see our small-market Grizzlies starting lineup featured on the cover of SLAM Magazine, a national publication.
” A lot of people have written us off,” said Tony Allen. “A lot of people looked at Memphis as a team that they could just run all over. Now we have notoriety. It is a compliment to our hard work.”