Catching Up With the Grizzlies

by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista

Tony Allen has seen both ends of the spectrum. He was a member of the Celtics team that lifted up the franchise’s 17th Championship banner—the most of any team in NBA history. He also was an integral part of the upstart Grizzlies that knocked off the No. 1-seeded Spurs last season to win the first Playoff game and series in franchise history.

This season, Allen is getting it done on both ends of the floor, although he is especially noticed for his elite perimeter defense. While Allen has picked up where he left off last season and is working to propel the Grizzlies to another deep postseason run, he will always carry a little Celtics’ green with him.

SLAM: You’ve shown so much with your defense as a member of the Grizzlies. Has your focus been to come out and shut down your guy before thinking about scoring?

Tony Allen: First thing’s first, I’m coming in here just to compete—at any part of the game. Coach Pressey used to tell me, ‘It’s a game within a game.’ Just go out there and help my team win the ball game no matter what. It ain’t just about me and my opponent, it’s about me and the Memphis Grizzlies doing it collectively together. Some things stand out more than others but at the same time, I’m just trying to win.

SLAM: What did he mean by “game within a game”?

TA: Just trying to limit your guy and the [other] team’s second chance points, calm that down, that’ll probably be a differential in the game. Trying to not turn the ball over as much as the other team, that might be a differential in the game. Just certain aspects that are part of the game, you try to limit the other opponents too, maybe it could be a difference in the outcome.

SLAM: Can you describe the impact of winning a Championship with the Celtics before joining the Grizzlies?

TA: Like I say, me winning that Championship with the Celtics, I definitely learned a lot from those Hall of Fame guys, like Kevin Garnett—his preparation and focus, Paul Pierce—his competitive spirit, Ray Allen—his routine, Rondo—his will to win. I definitely took notes from everybody. Can’t forget about Perk neither—his monster attitude out there. I just took a piece from everybody and just brought that over here as a collective group and tried to bring it to my collective group. We’re just a team in progress right now, we’re trying to fight.

SLAM: Was there something special about the Celtics’ chemistry that allowed you guys to have such a great run?

TA: Yeah, those guys liked each other and they pretty much did everything on and off the court with each other. I think once you get that camaraderie with each other, I think it carries over on the court.

SLAM: What was it like to be part of the Grizzlies’ historic postseason last year?

TA: It was great, it was a great feeling. Hard work pays off—all I could say about that. We got to believe, and the city was behind us. We believed and we went out there and competed. It felt great but last year was last year, we definitely trying to make that noise again this year and it’s gonna take a lot of work considering the fact that Zach Randolph’s out.