When Zach Randolph signed with the Kings this summer, the Grizzlies announced his No. 50 would never be worn again and there would eventually be a jersey retirement ceremony to honor the player that helped define the Memphis “Grit N Grind” identity.
The other player that set the tone for the Grizzlies over the past decade was Tony Allen, whose defensive intensity set the tone for the team. Allen, like Randolph, left in free agency this summer, signing with the Pelicans, who come to Memphis on Friday for a preseason game. Ahead of Allen’s return to Memphis, the Grizzlies announced that, like Randolph, his No. 9 will likewise find its way into the rafters of the FedEx Forum one day in the not so distant future.
Grizzlies owner Robert Pera released a statement thanking Allen for his years in Memphis and noting that the Grindfather will indeed have his jersey retired along with Randolph.
“Tony was a driving force behind the Grizzlies’ seven straight playoff appearances and he remains a beloved member of the Memphis community. Tony played with a level of passion that is unrivaled. He helped establish a Grizzlies culture focused on toughness and effort, and he challenged every player that put on Beale Street Blue to match his fiery intensity. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank him for his incredible contributions to the Grizzlies and the unique way that he inspired the city of Memphis. We are proud that the Grindfather’s #9 jersey will hang in the rafters of FedExForum alongside Zach’s one day.”
Tony Allen had a heartfelt reaction to the news that his jersey would be retired in Memphis.
It’s the right move for the Grizzlies to honor both of those players. One would expect Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will likewise have their jerseys retired along with Randolph and Allen when they reach the end of their careers. Those core four have defined Memphis basketball in a way no other players have in the franchise’s history, which is why the organization doesn’t need to be too far removed from those players being with the franchise to know they belong in the rafters.