An era that captured the hearts of a blue collar town with their toughness and togetherness. An era that produced one of the longest playoff streaks in the NBA over the last 15 years.
The Core Four
Conley was the last of the “core four” players that embodied Grit N’ Grind basketball in Memphis. He will no doubt take his place on the Mount Rushmore of Grizzlies greats along with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Tony Allen (who coined the phrase Grit N Grind).
Grit N’ Grind became a brand in the 2010-11 season when the eighth seed Grizzlies knocked off the number one seed San Antonio Spurs.
Memphis went on to the conference semifinals where they fell to the OKC Thunder in seven hard-fought games. It was the Grizzlies’ first taste of playoff success after being swept in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
But it certainly wouldn’t be their last.
Memphis made seven straight playoff appearances with the core four from 2010-2017. One of only three teams to accomplish the feat during that stretch. They peaked in 2014 when they reached the Western Conference Finals.
The Grit and Grind Grizzlies produced 29 playoff victories and multiple All Star appearances. Gasol was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and Allen was voted First or Second Team All Defense in six of the seven years.
The city of Memphis will forever hold a special place in their hearts for this group.
End of an era
The dismantling of the Grit and Grind era couldn’t have been handled with more class.
Allen currently contributes to a local sports radio show in Memphis. The Grizzlies retired Randolph’s jersey last season, and Gasol won a championship with the Raptors this season.
It is only fitting that a punctuation mark is placed on the end of the Grit N Grind era as Memphis starts a new era with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Follow us on Twitter @OTHeroics1.
Follow us on Instagram @othsports.
Follow the author on Twitter @plcolter.