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VOL. 131 | NO. 231 | Friday, November 18, 2016
Don Wade

Don Wade

Spanish McGregor Walk A Gasol-Conley Production

By Don Wade

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Put aside the big contracts the Grizzlies gave center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley. Because truth is, although the Grizzlies could pay them more as returning agents, Conley and Gasol also could have earned rich deals in bigger cities where the rosters were closer to being title-ready.

LeBron James’ talents didn’t bring a championship to Cleveland until after he took those talents to Miami and won a couple there. Kevin Durant left OKC and signed on with the Golden State Warriors only because Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Bill Russell’s Celtics were not available.

Gasol and Conley?

They blinked away the gold dust that is always sprinkled over change and leaving the old for the new. They took stock and decided that if they could win big here, it would mean more. And that winning together was essential.

So they came back to continue what they built here. And as the last minutes of a November Wednesday faded into the first hour of a November Thursday, you saw it play out.

They came back for games like this against their bitter rival, the Los Angeles Clippers. For plays like the one that won that game – Conley driving, drawing two defenders, and kicking the ball to the new Gasol, the one you can’t leave wide open behind the 3-point line in the corner.

Gasol’s shot went in and then Big Spain was giving the best after-the-shot show of the young season: He did the Conor McGregor strut.

“The Spanish McGregor Walk, that’s what we call it,” Conley said.

Gasol had hit what turned out to be the game-winner in the Grizzlies’ 111-107 victory at Staples Center, handing the Clippers just their second loss of the season. And today that shot and the Spanish McGregor Walk are being replayed over and over on TV and across social media.

“He’s too far gone for me to teach him how to dance,” Conley said of his good friend, “but now every time he makes one he has to dance.”

Moments like that, enjoyed together, with the word “Memphis” across their chests, that’s why they came back.

Where Gasol, Conley and the Grizzlies ultimately go this season is impossible to know at this early stage. They started this four-game road trip losing at Milwaukee and everyone sort of gulped and wondered if the good times were gone.

Then in Utah, before the Grizzlies played the Jazz, first-year coach David Fizdale let veterans and young players alike know that the effort had not been good enough, intense enough. The Grizzlies came out and beat a good young Utah team for their first road win and to get back to .500.

Two nights later in Los Angeles and before a national viewing audience on ESPN, they played like they were having playoff flashbacks. Conley had his second 30-point game of the season against the Clippers and tied his career high with seven threes. Gasol scored a season-high 26 points.

“We stay in the moment and it’s been good so far,” Gasol told the media afterward. “We make the right plays and we are lucky the ball went in.”

In other words, let your Spanish McGregor Walk do your talking for you.

By winning, the Grizzlies stopped the Clippers’ seven-game winning streak. And perhaps reignited a deeper belief within their own camp.

“For us to get a signature win like this is huge,” said Conley.

Yes, this is why they came back. To create and make shots that win games that are made in Memphis even when played in L.A.

For teamwork to rule the day. For Marc Gasol to dance and for Mike Conley to give it a name.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.

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