Conley ‘Anxious’ For Game Against Former Team
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – For 12 NBA seasons, Mike Conley called Memphis home. Now, the Jazz point guard is preparing to step on the FedEx Forum floor as a member of the visiting team and his feelings are mixed.
“Just anxious you know. (It’s) almost like you’re just trying to get it over with…just trying to get back to hooping and I’m sure it will get to that point, but I also want to take a moment…because this is a once in a lifetime type thing, where you get to come back to a place. So, that will be fun,” Conley said.
You can understand why this would be an emotional time for one of the leaders of the “Grit and Grind” era of Memphis professional basketball, Conley played in 788 games for the Grizzlies, scored 11,733 points, stole the ball 1161 times and dished out 4509 assists.
His love for Memphis goes beyond playing basketball. In fact, the city was a second home to him before he was even drafted by the Grizzlies in 2007.
“I’ve been coming to Memphis since I was a kid. My cousins live there, they are from Memphis. And so, it’s where I spent a lot of my summers and getting drafted there was like I basically got drafted back to a familiar home man. I think from day one, I felt comfortable,” Conley said with a smile.
Conley’s comfort level grew after the Grizzlies organization asked him to start serving in the community. His involvement didn’t stop when he was traded from Memphis to Utah.
Conley flew back to Memphis in September to attend his annual bowling tournament to raise money for sickle cell research. His involvement in the community led him to be a different person off and on the court.
“It helps you grow. When you see how you can serve others and, and be a blessing to other people, and be a role model to certain people….And you bring that back to the locker room, you feel 10 times better about yourself going in as a leader of a team or whatever role you have on the team,” he continued.
Conley’s leadership has been evident since he joined the Jazz. Many of his new teammates admitted to picking Conley’s brain after arriving in Salt Lake City. He’s constantly giving praise to other players like Emmanuel Mudiay, who he has called his “point guard.”
In the game against Milwaukee, he agreed to vacate a certain part of the court so that Bojan Bogdanovic could have more room to drain the game-winning shot.
Conley now has the difficult task of leading his new team to victory over his old team that meant everything to him. He must try to accomplish this feat with friends and family who can’t wait to see him return.
Conley hopes he’s up for the challenge.
“Just try not to think too much about it, trying to keep it as businesslike as I can. But, I know it’ll be emotional,” Conley concluded.