As it turns out, “Grit and Grind” — one of the best NBA team mottos in recent memory — isn’t so great for Rudy Gay. Tony Allen told MassLive.com’s Tom Westerholm a ton of interesting things at the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 60 Days of Summer program, but the story of Grit and Grind truly stands out.
Allen told a long story about the motto’s origins, which started when Rudy Gay didn’t play because of a toe injury. Allen wasn’t happy about him sitting out, and he made a point to mention it after the game.
“Rudy Gay said ‘I’m not playing this game, my toe hurts,'” Allen said. “‘I said, your toe hurt? Your toe hurt? You just did a windmill dunk last night, your toe wasn’t …’ I said ‘Alright, your toe hurt.'”
Allen went on to guard Kevin Durant instead of James Harden.
“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 rebonds 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.”
You can indeed YouTube this and see the postgame interview for yourself.
It’s a pretty great story, but it’s definitely something Gay was going to notice. On Saturday, he tweeted out a screenshot of the story’s origin and said Allen was being a hypocrite. He didn’t say what made Allen a hypocrite, but he was still really angry.
The Fastbreak Breakfast podcast’s Twitter account pointed out the rest of the quote to Gay, in which Allen walked it back and said they were still close today. Gay then cooled down a little and reinforced that he and Allen are tight.
Grit and Grind certainly evolved well past a swipe at Gay and into something great for Memphis and the Grizzlies, but it must have been weird for Gay to see it take off knowing how it began.