New Orleans Pelicans guard Tony Allen's first game since 2010 for a team other than the Memphis Grizzlies will be in a familiar building.
The Pelicans open their season at FedExForum against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the first chance for Allen to play against the team he spent seven seasons with, helping spawn the "Grit and Grind" era.
With his return approaching, the feisty defender penned a heartfelt post in The Players' Tribune to Memphis and its fans, recalling how the team came together during the 2010-11 season and how much pride he took in representing the city. He made it clear "this is not my goodbye letter," adding that he'll be back in Memphis "on a permanent basis" at some point in the future.
Allen also thanked Grizzlies fans:
And thank you to everyone who supported me for the past seven years. Anybody who wore one of those number 9 jerseys, or those G&G t-shirts, or just made some noise when they announced my name - I never took any of that for granted. Sometimes I'd look up at the Forum during shootaround, and I could just feel that vibe in the air. It'd be like, Man - we got a few new Grit & Grind fans in the house tonight. I'll always remember that, always remember those nights. Because I knew we had something ... but the idea that we were building something? That's what was the most special. It was that feeling, that made me want to work so hard for y'all.
So, you know - thank you for everything, Memphis. I know I wasn't perfect ... but the time I spent here was. I came over as a young player, and left as the Grindfather.
I came looking for a team, and found a home.
The Pelicans finished their preseason slate in Memphis, but Allen didn't play because of ankle soreness. Coach Alvin Gentry expects him to play Wednesday night.
Allen's other trip to Memphis this season is scheduled for Jan. 10.