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There were rumors of a simmering rivalry between Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo when they were teammates.

Tonight the world gets to see them battle in person and face-to-face at the FedEx Forum.

Mayo comes in ranked 9th in the league in scoring and 1st in the league in 3 point shooting percentage. Allen and the Grizzlies come in as the best defense in the league both in points allowed and defensive efficiency. It should be exciting to say the least as Mayo, the unstoppable scorer, comes home to face the unmovable defense of the Grizzlies.

But this story began a lot earlier.

O.J. Mayo was supposed to be the Superstar in Memphis. He may well become that in his career, but he never reached that level in Memphis.  Traded for the rights to Kevin Love and longtime fan favorite Mike Miller, Mayo set the world on fire the first two months in Memphis, scoring at will and basically looking like a superstar. Then, the struggles set in.

The team wasn’t very good at that time, so teams focused on stopping Mayo. At just under 6-4, Mayo didn’t have the size to be a great SG, nor did he have the speed to handle the PG role. Basically, he was a “tweener.” Not exactly a PG and not exactly a SG either. No one questioned that Mayo could score. That was a given since his youth when Sports Illustrated did an article on him in 7th grade. The question was where to play Mayo that would allow him to score without putting him in a position that would allow opponents to score more.

For Lionel Hollins, that position was as 6th Man. That didn’t sit well with Mayo.

Tony Allen was the leading scorer in the old Southwest Conference as a senior at Oklahoma State. Allen was the first Cowboy to score 1000 points in a season and led OSU to the Final Four. Drafted by the Boston Celtics (whose GM was Chris Wallace at the time) with the 25th pick in the draft, Allen had a decent rookie season averaging 6.4 PPG and was selected to the Rookie Challenge during All-Star weekend.

Allen injured his knee twice in Boston and, after the Celtics traded for Ray Allen, seemed destined to be a career backup in the NBA. His defense was outstanding despite the injuries to his knee, but he couldn’t break into the rotation with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen ahead of him, so he decided to sign with Memphis before the 2008-09 season.

So, the stage was set. A fiery personality and a hot Superstar were destined to battle.  It was only a matter of time.

Not many people expected it to be 30,000 feet in the air however.  We don’t need to cover the fight over a card game debt in detail. Suffice it to say that things got out of hand. However, the fight did change things in a big way for Memphis.

Not an actual headlock

Two weeks later on January 19th in Oklahoma City, ‘Grit and Grind’ became the mantra for the Grizzlies. Allen scored 19 points and played great defense on Kevin Durant in the game.

From that point on, Allen was the starter, Mayo was the bench scorer, and the debate raged on which player should be starting. That debate ended this past summer when Mayo signed with Dallas.

So tonight the two will face off against each other on the court. Both players know each other well after two seasons of practices. Two rivals facing each other for the first time in a real game and in front of basically a full house.

It should be a lot of fun to watch. Tickets are still available too!

Related story: O.J. Mayo ready to kick Memphis’ butt

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9 Responses to Mayo vs. Allen 2: On the Ground

  1. mtigerdiehardGrizzliesDieHardNo Gravatar says:

    We also should not forget that Mayo was re-inserted in the starting lineup for the playoff series vs. OKC in order to gaurd Westbrook and also stretch the floor with outside shooting. Hollins never gave O.J a chance and Tony Allen always should have backed up the Juice. That’s my opinion and that is the way it should have been.

    • Chip CrainNo Gravatar says:

      Do you still feel that Hollins never gave Mayo a chance and that Mayo should have started over Allen?

      • Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

        Chip, you must realize that part of the love affair some fans have with O.J. Was that he was the closest thing the Grizz have had to a dynamic slashing/scoring 2-guard since…since…

        Since Michael Dickerson?!?!

        Most NBA fans love that type of player because they make highlights–see Wade, Dwyane; Bryant, Kobe & Jordan, Michael.

        OJ was supposed to be that guy for us and for a couple of years he was. But the team is better with Tony smacking himself on the butt after a good play.

        • Chip CrainNo Gravatar says:

          OJ was never the slashing DWade type of player. One of Hollins biggest complaints the first few years was that Mayo wasn’t more aggressive and preceded to fade away than attack the lane.

  2. Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

    Couple of key omissions in this account, Chip:

    One was that Juice and Zach were late for a shoot around, and neither one started in the Miami game where Rudy hit the game winner. Xavier Henry started that game. Juice came off the bench, and Tony had not yet emerged into the defensive hit man we know today; he was mostly riding the pine then, too.

    But probably more than even the Altercation at Elevation (HA!), what really sunk O.J. was the DHEA suspension. That took him out of the lineup for like 10 days, during which Tony started and the team really started to roll. And in fairness to Coach Hollins, his standard policy is when a player misses time for injury or whatever, when they come back, it’s on them to adjust to what the team is doing — which was inside-out basketball featuring Marc & ZBo.

    The Grizz were romper stomping the league when O.J.’s suspension was over. And lest we depend on guys like Greivis Vasquez, Henry, D.A. or (gasp) Hasheem Thabeet for firepower off the bench, O.J. became the designated microwave.

    Still, let’s face facts: Juice thrived on the Grizz when they were a bad team, and were a more perimeter based offense. The emergence of the double threat of Zach and Marc is really what did O.J. in, especially when, plainly speaking, there just weren’t enough shots left after those guys got theirs.

    All in all though, good for O.J. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out for a guy in a particular place. Grizz roster is chock full of guys like that. So best of luck to him.

    • smit-tay grizNo Gravatar says:

      Actually, Sam Young started the most games at SG for the Grizzlies prior to the All-Star break (15 for OJ, 16 for XH, and 7 for TA)
      starting 18 of the 19 games prior to Rudy’s injury when he moved to SF and at that point TA became the regular starter. The one game in that stretch that Sam didn’t start was the OKC game where TA started and really shined. So actually that great stretch where the team record was 15-3 had Sam starting at the SG for 17 of those games.

  3. ccNo Gravatar says:

    TA wins: scored as many as Hold the Mayo! LOLza
    TA had 5 rebs/3 steals too & was 5-14(10pts)…OJ was 3-11 & had 5 TOs.
    I rip Mayo cause he’s a prima-donna wannabe baby,and talked about he wanted to kick some GRIZZ butt in the press.
    TA beat him again! GRIZZ

  4. Chip CrainNo Gravatar says:

    I wonder how many people are willing to come on the blog and insist Hollins was unwilling to allow Mayo to start after watching this game. Seems to me Hollins saw in practice what we saw last night for the first time and made the right decision.

  5. JmanonbassNo Gravatar says:

    Absolutely Chip, I’m done questioning Hollins.

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