The NBA is kicking off its annual Rivalry Week, and you’ll’t have it with out the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. The Grizzlies and Warriors have met for 2 postseasons in a row. In 2021, Memphis defeated the Warriors within the play-in event, after which final yr, Golden State acquired payback in a six-game Western Convention Semifinal matchup.
By way of the playoff historical past, there have been a bunch of various photographs thrown from either side that constructed this rivalry. A far callback is Andre Iguodala’s resolution to not play for Memphis after being traded there from the Warriors in a salary-dump — and now Iggys will get booed each time he will get the ball in Memphis.
After a March 2022 blowout victory, Jaren Jackson Jr. tweeted “power in numbers,” which led to Klay Thompson throwing strays and calling him a “bum” within the press convention after they received a NBA title. To not point out, the delicate photographs he threw on the Grizzlies throughout the championship parade. Dillon Brooks additionally referred to as the Grizzlies a “dynasty,” which the Warriors veteran didn’t take too frivolously.
Basketball code reached its apex in dialog throughout final yr’s playoff collection. Brooks additionally clubbed Gary Payton II with a flagrant 2 name, which led to the Warriors position participant fracturing his elbow. Then, the physicality – and the debates of the intentions – heightened when Jordan Poole pulled Morant’s knee for a unfastened ball to deem him out for the playoff collection.
Then, Ja Morant and Draymond jabbed backwards and forwards in some pleasant smack discuss centered on actual property and Christmas Day sport hypothesis. As soon as they lastly acquired that desired matchup, the Warriors mopped the ground with the Grizzlies, and Thompson and Inexperienced taunted Brooks, Grizzlies all through the sport.
Because the NBA is trying to acknowledge and rebuild the “rivalry” aspect, the Grizzlies and Warriors match the invoice to a tee. There are animosity and trash discuss between the 2 groups, whereas the “dynasty vs. up-next” aspect rings true as properly.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t attain to magnitude or the levels these two groups have been on with out famous person abilities in Ja Morant and Stephen Curry — two level guards who’re completely different, but related, and resemble the altering guard on this rivalry and the league.
Curry and Morant are two of probably the most charming abilities within the league. You would argue they’re probably the most “must-see TV” gamers within the sport. They’re able to viral highlights in a second’s discover, and you need to activate the sport immediately once they’re cooking their poor oppositions.
They do their magic in related, but completely different, methods. Each Curry and Morant maintain the ball on a string, and defenders could be twisted or faked out with nasty combos. Curry modified the complete sport of basketball along with his very good shot-making, and his flurries from downtown go away defenses with no approach to include them. They’ve to simply pray he misses. Morant typically does his harm within the paint with floaters or acrobatic finishes, however from time to time, he’ll audaciously rise above his opposition for a dunk so vicious you’d assume he has a vendetta in opposition to the defender or the rim.
Morant and Curry additionally play with this brash, audacious swagger. It’s enjoyable, and you’ll inform they’ve enjoyable – whether or not it’s a shimmy, celebrations, or a post-game griddy. Morant’s swagger has been evident since he arrived in Memphis. Together with the aforementioned skillset and celebrations, he isn’t afraid to let folks know they will’t guard him, or that they’re too small to take action. Curry carries himself with this cocky swagger – once more with the celebrating, operating again on protection or turning in direction of the bench earlier than his shot even falls in, or shaking his defender to close embarrassment.
These are the thrilling parts of their video games that draw the viewers in, crown them fan favorites for a youthful era, and make them appointment tv even on a random Tuesday night time sport.
Morant and Curry additionally carry themselves with this unselfish management. They not often miss a chance to go the shine to their teammates. In addition they carry themselves with a management completely different from their louder teammates Draymond Inexperienced and Dillon Brooks. It’s very a lot a “lead by instance” kind of management that units the tone for every of their ball golf equipment.
Increasing the scope just a little additional, Morant and Curry’s paths to the league are eerily related. Each guards had been under-recruited in highschool, resulting in them becoming a member of mid-major applications at Murray State and Davidson. With that platform, they shot up draft boards by charming the nation and scouts in the identical approach they’ve impacted the NBA: mixing their playmaking with elite shot-making (Curry), athleticism (Morant), and scoring prowess.
Steph Curry was the pioneer of the mid-major guard, particularly within the trendy NBA, setting the trail for guys like Morant to make it into the league and thrive. Now, Morant is that man for the subsequent era – maybe the subsequent Ja, Steph, and even somebody like Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum.
Change of the guard is the theme for this Grizzlies and Warriors rivalry. Beginning with their famous person level guards, they’re arguably the two finest gamers at their positions, and the youthful Morant may very well be seen because the recipient of the torch handed from the older Curry – as one enters his prime and the opposite is close to the tip (at the least that’s what Father Time leads us to assume, however who is aware of what Steph has deliberate).
Just like the San Antonio Spurs with them in the course of the 2010’s, the Warriors might have discovered their predecessor as the crew within the Western Convention with the Grizzlies – as there was discuss of a attainable Finals look from the Grizzlies in Draymond Inexperienced’s podcast. Clearly, home windows can shut, but it surely’s a storyline that looms inside this rivalry.
All in all, the idea of the altering guard blended with the trash discuss, pleasant or not, and the animosity make the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors the NBA’s premier rivalry in its inaugural Rivalry Week. Nevertheless, the magnitude and platform for this rivalry doesn’t exist with out the excellence of famous person level guards Ja Morant and Steph Curry – and so they bend the sport and convey oodles of pleasure to it with their stylistic similarities and variations.