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Zach Randolph and Tony Allen: Memphis Grizzlies set to retire first jerseys for two 'Grit and Grind' icons

Two of the defining names of the 'Grit and Grind' era in Memphis will have their jerseys hung in the rafters this season, becoming the first players in Grizzlies history to receive the honour

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 27: Zach Randolph #50 and Tony Allen #9 of the Memphis Grizzlies high five each other during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 27, 2017 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Image: Zach Randolph (#50) and Tony Allen (#9) of the Memphis Grizzlies high-five during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017

The Memphis Grizzlies have announced they will be retiring the first two jerseys in the franchise's history, with the honour being awarded to 'Grit and Grind' era legends Zach Randolph and Tony Allen.

The team will retire Randolph's number 50 jersey on Saturday, December 11 against the Houston Rockets. Allen's number 9 will be added to the rafters of the FedEx Forum on Friday, January 28 when the Memphis Grizzlies host the Utah Jazz.

When Grind City Media's Chris Vernon made the announcement live to Allen, revealing his jersey would be retired in front of former teammate Mike Conley Jr. and the Jazz, Allen responded emotionally.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "The whole build up, bringing my swagger here, the demeanour, the poise in just working every day, the grit and grind culture here … It's a complete honour and I'm thankful, real thankful."

Conley was an integral part of the 'Grit and Grind' period alongside Randolph, a bruising power forward and Allen, a defensive specialist at the guard position.

Marc Gasol, currently of the Los Angeles Lakers, was the other key player during the era in which the Grizzlies established themselves as one of the best teams in a stacked Western Conference and a borderline championship contender between 2010 and 2017.

The moniker came from the tough, physical style of play that saw Memphis prioritise defense and scoring in the paint over the kind of pace and space offenses that were becoming more common in the league at the time. The Grizzlies regularly finished among the top teams for steals and points allowed but among the bottom for pace and three-pointers made.

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The 'Grit and Grind' Memphis Grizzlies
Image: The 'Grit and Grind' Memphis Grizzlies

Randolph, nicknamed 'Z-Bo', averaged 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in his eight-year stint with the Grizzlies, while also being named as an All-Star twice in 2010 and 2013.

Allen, meanwhile, wasn't much of a threat on the offensive end but still proved invaluable to the Memphis identity. In seven seasons with the team he was selected to three All-Defensive First Teams and three All-Defensive Second Teams. His nickname, 'The Grindfather', is telling.

While the 'Grit and Grind' Grizzlies never reached the NBA Finals, they were a playoff team for seven straight seasons and missed the post-season for three consecutive years immediately following the departures of Randolph and Allen before 2017-18.

The closest they came to a title was in 2012-13, when the Grizzlies knocked out the fourth seed Los Angeles Clippers and upset first seed Oklahoma City Thunder before going down 4-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Two seasons earlier against the Spurs, they had become only the fourth eighth-seeded team in NBA history to knock out a first seed in the first round.

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