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Tony Allen said Memphis “Grit and Grind” started as insult to Rudy Gay

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Two

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Two

NBAE/Getty Images

The “Grit and Grind” era in Memphis is over. It will continue on T-shirts and in the hearts of Grizzlies fans, but with Zach Randolph in Sacramento and Tony Allen unsigned, it’s not the same. The era has ended.

But how did Grit and Grind get its name?

Allen took part in the Basketball Hall of Fame’s “60 Days of Summer” program last Friday and told the story of how that motto started as Allen’s dig at Rudy Gay back on Feb. 8, 2011, after a game against the Thunder.

“Rudy Gay said ‘I’m not playing this game, my toe hurts,’ 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.’...

“To make a long story short, we win, 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.”

Rudy Gay wasn’t amused.

To be correct, Allen missed 10 games that year in January but was back with the team regularly at that point, including playing the night before against the Clippers.

Whatever the circumstance, that comment started a movement in Memphis, one that helped that team bond with the fan base. It was a great run, one it’s sad to see end.