General manager Chris Wallace said:
"Tony will forever be one of the Core Four responsible for the turnaround in the Memphis Grizzlies' fortunes and our surge in popularity. There would never have been seven straight years of playoff appearances, the incredible electricity in FedExForum for home games, 'Grit and Grind' and 'Believe Memphis' without Tony Allen’s contributions to the team.
"In the process Tony became more than just one of the toughest defenders in the league—he became a true cult hero who was intertwined with the soul of Memphis like few athletes ever have in any city. Tony and his family will be missed but his impact on the Grizzlies and Memphis will never be forgotten."
Allen responded emotionally to the announcement:
New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA
.@aa000G9’s emotional reaction to having his jersey retired in Memphis. https://t.co/skSGoPaFLn2017-10-12 16:06:02
Indeed, Allen was the defensive backbone of Memphis' Grit and Grind teams that also featured Zach Randolph—who will also have his uniform retired by the team—Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. In Allen's seven seasons with the Grizzlies, the team never missed the postseason.
He was an NBA All-Defensive first-team selection three times and All-Defensive second-teamer an additional three times, helping to form Memphis' identity as one of the most defensively stifling and physical teams in the NBA.
While those teams never advanced past the Western Conference Finals, that identity and consistency made that particular period the most successful in franchise history.
Controlling owner Robert J. Pera said in the team's statement:
"Tony played with a level of passion that is unrivaled. He helped establish a Grizzlies culture focused on toughness and effort, and he challenged every player that put on Beale Street Blue to match his fiery intensity. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank him for his incredible contributions to the Grizzlies and the unique way that he inspired the city of Memphis."