In the summer of 2019, the Memphis Grizzlies took their first step toward building a contender when they drafted Ja Morant No. 2 overall in the NBA draft. With a core of Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies appeared to have a young and exciting group capable of leading the franchise to greener pastures. Andre Iguodala wanted none of it.
The Grizzlies acquired Iguodala from the Golden State Warriors in June 2019. However, Iggy refused to play for Memphis, sitting out the 2019-20 season until the team sent him to the Miami Heat in February 2020.
Needless to say, the Grizzlies have not forgotten.
Memphis destroyed the Warriors on Monday night, making another statement during a season in which the franchise has rapidly realized its potential as a contender. Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks had choice words for Iguodala after the game, ripping the veteran for his lack of foresight and professionalism.
Andre Iguodala received boos from the Memphis crowd as Dillon Brooks and the Grizzlies dominated the Warriors
The Grizzlies and Warriors have jousted for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference for weeks. But Memphis sent yet a message to the Dubs on Monday.
Having already won two of their first three games against Golden State, the Grizzlies crushed the Warriors in a 123-95 rout. Desmond Bane set the tone for Memphis, scoring a team-high 22 points and finishing the contest +31 in plus-minus. Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton chipped in with 21 points apiece as the Grizzlies overwhelmed the Dubs from the jump.
It was a nightmare for the injury-riddled Warriors, who were without all of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Iguodala, in particular, received an unfriendly welcome.
Grizzlies fans let their feelings be known when Iguodala checked into the game late in the first quarter. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP temporarily silenced the crowd by drilling a three-pointer from the corner, which actually gave the Warriors a 16-13 lead at the time.
But Memphis quickly took command. The Grizzlies finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run and outscored Golden State 43-21 in the second period, effectively ending the game early.
Having already heard it from Grizzlies supporters, Iguodala also caught some strays from Brooks during postgame press conferences.
Brooks laid into Iguodala after the contest
Brooks was one of the most openly critical Grizzlies players to target Iguodala when the veteran swingman sought a trade in 2020. He again took aim at Iggy on Monday.
Memphis’ gritty and outspoken leader commented (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area) on Iguodala receiving boos from the crowd during the contest, saying the Grizzlies are better for having traded him.
“We all had the vision, and [Iguodala] didn’t, which is perfect. You know, send him back to the Warriors and let him do his thing over there.”–Dillon Brooks, reflecting on the Andre Iguodala-Grizzlies debacle
It’s worth pointing out that Iguodala spent the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign with the Heat, and again suited up for Miami last season. But Brooks’ general sentiment still holds.
Iguodala had a desire to win now. His affinity for the Warriors led him to sign with the Dubs before this past offseason. However, the Grizzlies have experienced tremendous growth in the past couple of seasons, and they look to be on the verge of passing Golden State as Western Conference contenders.
To add to the drama, the two squads might square off in the playoffs.
On a playoff collision course?
With just six games remaining in their season, the Grizzlies have all but guaranteed the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Are they destined for a second-round date with the Warriors?
Golden State still holds the No. 3 seed, though the Dallas Mavericks are just 1.5 games back. However, the Dillon Brooks-Andre Iguodala feud could have another chapter in the playoffs if the Warriors keep the third seed.
Granted, the Grizzlies and Warriors would have to take care of business in the first round. That’s not a given, especially for Golden State.
As things currently stand, the Warriors would play the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and the Nuggets are 3-1 against the Dubs this season. With Stephen Curry coming off his injury and Golden State playing its worst basketball of the season, such a matchup has the makings of an upset.
Still, it’s not out of the question that Brooks and the Grizzlies face Iguodala and the Warriors. That would make for terrific theater.