What is grit and grind

“Grit and Grind” - sounds like a catch phrase used in an advert to get someone up and running. Well, it’s not a catch phrase and it wasn’t used in any ad. Rather, it’s a way of basketball life.
Like most popular sports, basketball has different styles of play which are sometimes synonymous with a particular team. A team’s playing style is a concept that relates to the team’s overall use of playing methods. Playing styles can be primary – styles considered to be fundamental to their
playing style or secondary – styles that are not fundamental to the team’s performance. In football for instance, Tiki-taka (Tiqui-taca) is a Spanish style of play characterized by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession.

 This style of play is primarily associated with La Liga club Barcelona, especially during Pep Guardiola’s era as manager. In the NFL, there’s the West Coast offence that places great emphasis on passing rather than on running. The West Coast offence devised by Bill Walsh is characterized by short, horizontal passing routes in lieu of running plays to “stretch out” defenses, and thus opening up the potential for long run or long passes.
Basketball has its own styles of play that has been developed over the years and is still in use by teams in the NBA. For instance;

Small Ball – a style of play that sacrifices height, physical strength and low post offense/defense in favor of a lineup of smaller players for speed, agility an increased scoring often from the three-point line. It is closely tied to the concepts of pace and space. The advantage is that the power forward is occupied by a faster, more agile player who can outrun and maneuver the opposing forward. In 2014-15, The Golden State Warriors used small ball to a greater extent in the NBA Finals than any prior champion.

Memphis grizies grit and grind history

Pass and Screen Away offense- a component of basketball offense that emphasizes passing to teammates and moving in the opposite direction to set a screen away from the ball for another teammate. The pass and screen away offense creates scoring opportunities via the use of basketball screens like flare screen and cuts like the curl cut. Many basketball teams have used this offense to great success on all level of the game, including Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Other notable styles include; ISO basketball (isolation), Fist offense, Floppy offence, No paint defense, Guard the Yard, 5-on-4 scramble etc.

February 8, 2011 is often seen as the day the Grizzlies’ Grit and Grind style was born. Going into the 2010-11 season, the Grizzlies were celebrating their tenth year of basketball in Memphis and their season was kicked off with tremendous enthusiasm from the Memphians. The Grizzlies at this time, had what an identity crisis having won none of their playoff games.
The game that changed it all for the Grizzlies and the city of Memphis as a whole was against Oklahoma City Thunder; the game is now known as “The Tony Allen game.”.

Coach Lionel Hollins was entering his second season with the Grizzlies and they had just selected Hasheem Thabeet in the 2010 NBA Draft. The team’s frontline was covered by Rudy Gay Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley was entering his third season with the team as point guard. Prior to the Oklahoma game, Rudy Gay had a leg contusion and was replaced by Tony Allen; fresh of the injury list. Allen proved Coach Hollins was right to play him as he had one of the best games of his career with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. In an interview after the game, he responded with the famous quote “It was all heart, grit grind”.

Following the game, local radio host and Grizzlies supporter Chris Vernon began selling shirts with Allen’s face on it and the now famous quote. Tony Allen became “The Grindfather” as the FedEx Forum was quickly anointed as “The Grindhouse”.  Any details about the grit and grind without Zach Randolph in it in incomplete. Zch Randolph, affectionately referred to aa ZBo was making his mark as a Grizzly too. Zach chose to stay after he was traded to the Grizzlies and his contract expired. Together with Allen, they gave Memphis Grizzlies the “Grit and Grind era”; the most successful era in Grizzlies history.

The team became locally and nationally known for its “Grit and Grind” style of basketball. It meant disruptive defense through high pressure on the ball and their inside-out offense. Many considered this style of play hard to watch sometimes – missed lay-ups, questionable shot selections, but it worked for the team. People bought into the brand of basketball because of Zach and Tony. Yes, Memphis has better players in the form of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but the Zach and Tony forged the character of the Grizzlies. In the 2010-11 season, the Grizzlies had the most steals and were the highest scoring team in the paint.

 In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Grizzlies achieved several firsts. They won their first playoff game in franchise history, entering as an eighth seed against top seeded San Antonio Spurs with a 101-98 victory. Memphis won their first home playoff game against Spurs on April 23, 2011 with a 91-88 victory. Their first playoff series was won when they beat Spurs in game 6, 99-91 on April 29, making them only the fourth eighth seeded team in NBA history to defeat a top seeded team and only the second time in a best-of-seven series. The Grizzlies found their way back into the post season for the second time in the 2011-12 season after a home victory against New Orleans on April 18, 2012. The season ended with a 41-25 record, fourth in the Western Conference.
Tony Allen emerged as one of the league’s perimeter defenders in his first season with Memphis, averaging 1.79 steals, as well as helping the Grizzlies pace the NBA in steals and forced turnovers. Allen was subsequently named in the 2010-11 NBA All-Defensive Second Team, marking his first and the Grizzlies’ first selection to an All-Defensive Team.

 In 2012, he was voted the best perimeter defender in the NBA. He led all player receiving votes for the NBA All-Defensive teams in 2012-13, making his second straight First Team All-Defensive honor
Zach Randolph was selected for his first NBA All Star game in 2010, even though the Grizzlies didn’t make it to the playoffs. In 2011, he was named to the All-NBA Third Team for the first time in his career. In 2012-13 season, he was named to his second All Star game, helped the Grizzlies advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. In the close out game against the Thunder, Randolph scored a team high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

The Grit and Grind era spanned from 2010-2017 and still is their best era. For many Memphians, no term has ever defined what life is like in the city, nor has any pair of athletes defined a city in general like Zach and Tony. This style of play, along its seven-year span saw player overcome flaws and the team earned respect, and in some cases were feared for their style of play. Even though Allen and Zach have moved on, the legacy and impact lives on among Memphians.

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