In the world of sports, rivalries are second to none in premier entertainment. There are so many historic rivalries between all sports that fans can’t help but indulge in. While the Grizzlies think they are the Golden State Warriors’ newfound rivals in the Western Conference, forward Draymond Green says otherwise.
The Warriors and the Grizzlies faced off last year in the Western Conference semifinals, where the Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 4-2 in the series. There was a ton of trash talk in that epic series between the two Western Conference rivals. Combine that with the Grizzlies becoming consistent playoff contenders year in and year out, and Memphis believes they are the archenemies of the Warriors.
The NBA helped the Grizzlies further the fuel between the two teams by scheduling them to face off in a huge showdown on Christmas Day. The Stephen Curry-less Warriors got the better of the Grizzlies, defeating them 123-109. After the game, Draymond Green had a few comments about the rivalry talk that was brewing between the Warriors and Grizzlies.
NBC quoted Draymond Green on ESPN Radio as saying “I think the word rivalry is thrown around too loosely these days.”
“A rivalry is the Lakers-Celtics. A rivalry is us and the Cavs through those 2015, ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19 years. Those are rivalries.
“[The Grizzlies are] a great young team that has a very promising future, but they haven’t won enough yet to say it’s a rivalry. That’s no shot at them, it’s just … in order to be a rivalry, you’ve got to start hanging banners.”
Draymond has a valid point, as he normally does when it comes to basketball. The Grizzlies have no NBA championships to this date, and since Ja Morant has become the face of the Grizzlies franchise, the closest they’ve gotten to a championship is the semifinals in which they were eliminated by the Warriors. You simply cannot place yourself in a rivalry if you have no accolades or great achievements that have come from those matchups.
Real NBA Rivals
When analyzing the rivalry Draymond bought up, the Celtics and Lakers rivalry bought plenty of championships, iconic moments, and awards, and it lasted for decades. That rivalry created legends. Even other iconic rivalries like the Bulls and Pistons, Sixers and Celtics, and the aforementioned Cavs and Warriors all bought iconic moments and legends that have shaped our game today. The Grizzlies, though they are an extremely talented team, have yet to do any of those things yet when it comes to their games against the Warriors.
Draymond paid homage to the Grizzlies though, making sure that he noted that they’re an exciting young team, just not at the Warriors’ level of rivalry.
Hopefully, soon the Grizzlies will begin to make legendary moments with the Warriors, or perhaps even with any other talented Western Conference opponent. Ja Morant and the Grizzlies are almost too good to not eventually have a repertoire of legendary duels with another team.
One rivalry that may blossom for the Grizzlies, if they’re looking for one, may be with the Pelicans. Zion Williamson was drafted No. 1 overall, while Ja Morant was drafted second overall in the 2019 draft. Both are now All-Star-caliber, and their teams are powerhouses that could be competing for championships for years. Their paths will eventually cross, and if these teams are as good as they look right now, they should clash for a long time.
But for now the Grizzlies have to just be content with being a thorn in the Warriors’ side.