VOL. 132 | NO. 191 | Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Grizzlies Begin Life Without Z-Bo and TA, But Cling to Grit & Grind
By Don Wade
Another Memphis Grizzlies Media Day is done, the first one in this seven-year playoff run after the departure of Tony Allen and Zach Randolph.
So, in honor of those seven straight playoff appearances, seven quick impressions from Monday’s media scrum of more than three hours:
1. The Grizzlies, from general manager Chris Wallace to coach David Fizdale to players old and new, are not surrendering the Grit & Grind mantra. It didn’t walk out the door with TA and Z-Bo, they all say.
“Grit and Grind is a mindset,” said point guard Mike Conley. “It doesn’t mean the way we play.”
2. Fizdale spoke at length about the recent reaction across the NBA and NFL in response to President Trump’s comments and tweets that seemed to offend, well, just about everyone. Fizdale said if his players take a knee during the national anthem he will, too. He said the team had not yet discussed what action they might take in reference to Trump’s latest stand.
“You can’t meet with the team every time (Trump) makes an outlandish statement,” Fizdale said.
3. Marc Gasol’s comment over the summer, as picked up in Spain, about possibly needing to revisit his future with the team if things did not go well seemed to lose all of its energy. Gasol, asked if he was happy here, said “absolutely” and recounted his long history with the city, dating back to when he went to Lausanne Collegiate School and brother Pau was playing center for the Grizzlies, and the fact that his daughter was born here.
It was a happy and calm Gasol that met the media on the eve of training camp starting.
4. Fizdale said he met with many different coaches over the summer and again re-examined all that he did. One conclusion he reached was that he tried to “force leadership” too much instead of letting it evolve more organically. He said the same was also true of trying to create a family atmosphere among the players. So, Fizdale's insistence that all players can improve obviously is something he still holds himself accountable for as well.
If on one hand he was saying he overreached, he also seemed to leave room for the idea that players need to take more ownership in their own way and their own time.
5. Chandler Parsons came off as legitimately upset with the way his injury-plagued first Memphis season went.
“I’ve never struggled like that, never played awful like that,” he said.
He also said he learned a few things from all the arrows he took from fans and media about his personal life while injured. So, right now, he has a different idea on how he’ll spend this season’s All-Star Break: “Probably won’t go to Mexico.”
6. Rookie forward Ivan Rabb came off as confident, but not cocky. Comfortable in his own skin, but not complacent. He seems like a young guy that is wired to make a quick adjustment to the NBA. Eager to see him in the preseason.
7. Everyone took notice of the fact that the Western Conference only got better, especially with the star additions in Oklahoma City and Houston.
“Blistering competition,” Wallace said. “Nobody’s going to step out of our way.”