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 match, after which final yr, Golden State received payback in a six-game Western Convention Semifinal matchup.
By means of the playoff historical past, there have been a bunch of various pictures thrown from each side that constructed this rivalry. A far callback is Andre Iguodala’s decision 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 “strength 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 refined pictures he threw on the Grizzlies during the championship parade. Dillon Brooks additionally referred to as the Grizzlies a “dynasty,” which the Warriors veteran didn’t take too lightly.
Basketball code reached its apex in dialog throughout final yr’s playoff sequence. 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 loose ball to deem him out for the playoff sequence.
Then, Ja Morant and Draymond jabbed forwards and backwards in some pleasant smack speak centered on real estate and Christmas Day game hypothesis. As soon as they lastly received that desired matchup, the Warriors mopped the ground with the Grizzlies, and Thompson and Green taunted Brooks, Grizzlies throughout the game.
Because the NBA is seeking to acknowledge and rebuild the “rivalry” component, the Grizzlies and Warriors match the invoice to a tee. There are animosity and trash speak between the 2 groups, whereas the “dynasty vs. up-next” component rings true as effectively.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t attain to magnitude or the phases these two groups have been on with out celebrity abilities in Ja Morant and Stephen Curry — two level guards who’re completely different, but comparable, and resemble the altering guard on this rivalry and the league.
Curry and Morant are two of essentially the most fascinating abilities within the league. You would argue they’re essentially the most “must-see TV” gamers within the recreation. They’re able to viral highlights in a second’s discover, and it’s a must to activate the sport immediately after they’re cooking their poor oppositions.
They do their magic in comparable, but completely different, methods. Each Curry and Morant preserve the ball on a string, and defenders may be twisted or faked out with nasty combos. Curry modified the complete recreation of basketball along with his very good shot-making, and his flurries from downtown go away defenses with no technique to comprise them. They’ve to only pray he misses. Morant typically does his injury 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 suppose he has a vendetta towards 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’ll’t guard him, or that they’re too small to take action. Curry carries himself with this cocky swagger – once more with the celebrating, working again on protection or turning in the 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 technology, and make them appointment tv even on a random Tuesday evening recreation.
Morant and Curry additionally carry themselves with this unselfish management. They hardly ever miss a possibility to move 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 comparable. Each guards have 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 fascinating the nation and scouts in the identical method 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 fashionable NBA, setting the trail for guys like Morant to make it into the league and thrive. Now, Morant is that man for the subsequent technology – 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 celebrity level guards, they’re arguably the two finest gamers at their positions, and the youthful Morant could possibly 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 top (at the very least that’s what Father Time leads us to suppose, however who is aware of what Steph has deliberate).
Just like the San Antonio Spurs with them in the midst of the 2010’s, the Warriors could have discovered their predecessor as the workforce within the Western Convention with the Grizzlies – as there was talk of a possible Finals appearance from the Grizzlies in Draymond Green’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 combined with the trash speak, pleasant or not, and the animosity make the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors the NBA’s premier rivalry in its inaugural Rivalry Week. Nonetheless, the magnitude and platform for this rivalry doesn’t exist with out the excellence of celebrity 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.