Grizz Lead

Iggy Saga Gave Memphis the Hype They Needed

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Over the summer, the Memphis Grizzlies received Andre Iguodala in a trade from the Warriors. The move was seen as a salary dump for Golden State, with Memphis receiving a draft pick as compensation. Having just started their rebuild, the Grizzlies were projected to only win 25 games at the time. Iguodala quickly made it clear that he wanted to be bought out, and intended to play for a playoff-caliber team. The Grizzlies’ front office refused, and asked Iguodala to report to camp. He refused to do so, and a compromise was reached. The team allowed Iguodala to remain away from team activities while they searched for a deal. Rumors swirled, suitors emerged, but the Grizzlies remained patient. Fast forward a few months, and the situation is completely different than anyone predicted.

The Grizzlies just finished up a scorching-hot January in which they went 11-4, the third-best record in the league for the month. The team averaged 119 points per game, which was also third in the league. They were second in the league in field goal percentage, and first in assists. They come into February in sole possession of the Western Conference’s eight seed. After beating the Pistons last Monday, the team’s record sat at 25-25. The win matched their projected win total from the preseason. The team has re-established Memphis’ never-back-down mentality, and have gone toe-to-toe with the league’s best teams.

After the Pistons game, they showed that that mentality applies to everyone, even their own “teammate” Andre Iguodala. Dillon Brooks was asked about Iguodala and the situation surrounding him after the game. Brooks didn’t mince his words when answering, saying “I can’t wait until we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him what really Memphis is about.” The quote immediately sparked a social media firestorm.

Brooks’ comment was the first time a player explicitly commented on the Iguodala situation. While the franchise has been transparent during the process, the players feel slighted by certain comments Iguodala has made. He expressed interest in playing for a playoff team. The Grizzlies have become that. He expressed interest in serving as a mentor for young players. The Grizzlies are one of the youngest teams in the league. After the Brooks quote hit social media, Ja Morant joined in, adding fuel to the fire.

https://twitter.com/JaMorant/status/1224544517103259648?s=20

Shortly after Morant’s tweet, Steph Curry posted a picture of Iguodala and the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Instagram with the “shush” emoji. Morant responded with a photo of Kevin Durant with his Finals MVP trophy, insinuating that Durant was the reason for the Warriors’ championships. Fans jabbed back, saying Morant hadn’t experienced the full-strength Warriors yet. Morant proceeded to explain that he was a fan, but wasn’t afraid of them and they haven’t experienced him yet, either.

This “beef” ultimately served as the final chapter of the Iguodala saga in Memphis. He was traded to the Miami Heat shortly after. The Grizzlies also sent Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill to Miami, and acquired Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters in return. They waived Waiters and traded Johnson to Minnesota for Gorgui Dieng. Shortly after the trade was announced, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears posted a video of Iguodala discussing the trade.

Memphis fans were not happy with the video. Iguodala never mentioned anything about the team or his time as a member of the team. He didn’t do himself any favors after saying ” never stated that I wasn’t going to play there, and I never stated that I didn’t want to play with those guys” in a recent interview with The Athletic. After the interview was published, Memphis fans took to Twitter, bringing up multiple occasions where Iguodala seemed to say exactly that.

For a night, the entirety of NBA Twitter was focused on the Memphis Grizzlies. The focus held over throughout the rest of the week because the team was very active before Thursday’s trade deadline. This social media presence is uncharted territory for the team. It’s another element to their youth movement. It’s also another avenue for this team to display its swagger, and that’s exactly what they did on Monday.

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About Richmond Bailey Caldwell

Die-hard Grizzlies fan since 2009. Aspiring basketball writer and coach. University of Georgia sport management alum. Perennial first team all-defense selection.

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