Nostalgia takes center stage when Utah welcomes Memphis

To hear Mike Conley and Rudy Gay say it, they each have different early memories of each other.

Gay, who was considered the savvy veteran despite starting his second season when he met Conley, recalls Conley walking into the gym for his first workout showing off his new tattoo at the time. He had rolled up his sleeve and strutted around the gym, showing it to anyone who asked.

“For some reason I remember he just got a tattoo.… He came in with his little sleeve rolled up,” Gay said with a laugh. “Mike walked in and practiced, didn’t really care. talked a lot. “

“I was very proud. … Not so much now, ”Conley added of the tattoo with a smile.

While Conley doesn’t deny this encounter or the tattoo, he remembers calling Gay the “best dog on campus.” He credits much of his early league success to the mentorship he received from Gay.

“I thought he was the man, he was the best dog on campus,” Conley said. “I admired him, I tried to learn from him, and he was always a joker and made people laugh. I just followed his lead on everything. … In a way, he kind of showed me the ropes while he was still learning them himself.

As a rookie with Memphis in the 2007-08 season, Conley was selected with the fourth overall pick. At the time, the Grizzlies were considering pairing Conley with Gay, entering his second season with Memphis at the time. Together, these two were to take the Grizzlies to new heights.

Despite strong numbers as teammates, they only made the playoffs together once, in the 2011-12 season. Despite losing to the Clippers in seven games in the first round, the future has remained bright in Memphis.

The team started the following season 29-15 before Gay was sent to Toronto in a six-man trade. After playing together for 5.5 seasons, the couple was gone.

Fast forward to the present, and it’s safe to say their careers are now complete.

Not only are Conley and Gay back together on the pitch, but they’ll also face their former team when Utah hosts Memphis tonight at Vivint Arena. Closing is set at 7:00 p.m. MST.

“It’s weird because I’m looking at Rudy, I’m looking at him now, and he looks exactly the same,” Conley said. “When you look at pictures from 14-15 years ago, we look like little children. It’s just amazing how the circle has come full circle and to be on his team again.… We’re all fair. a little more mature, that’s pretty cool.

Tonight’s game is more than a homecoming for Conley and Gay.

Hassan Whiteside, another popular Utah free agent they acquired this offseason, signed an unsecured training camp contract with Memphis ahead of the start of the 2014-15 season. Although he had never played a regular season game with the Grizzlies, he remembers playing with Conley during training camp and admiring the way the veteran point guard went about his business. .

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder also has a very unique bond with Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins.

Jenkins was part of Snyder’s squad when the latter was G-League head coach Austin Toros – coaching together for two years. They reunited during the 2013-14 season under the direction of Mike Budenholzer, as assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Snyder would then resume Jazz the following season.

Despite the nostalgia, the game also serves as a rematch for last season’s first-round playoff game – a series in which Utah won 4-1, which was much more physical and difficult than expected.

The Jazz enter on a three-game winning streak tonight as the Grizzlies have won two of their last three games.


Utah Jazz
* Udoka Azubuike: OUT / G League – On mission
* Jared Butler: OUT / G League – On mission
* Elijah Hughes: OUT / G League – On mission

Memphis Grizzly
* Dillon Brooks: DOUBLE / right hamstring pain
* De’Anthony Melton: OUT / right groin pain
* Sam Merrill: OUT / sprained left ankle
* Yves Pons: OUT / G-League – Two Way

Time: 7:00 p.m. MST
Site: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Network
Radio: 1280 The Zone

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