Knicks head coach David Fizdale knows what it's like to coach at the FedEx Forum all too well. But when he steps foot on the court on Sunday night, he will be the visiting coach this time around.
Fizdale began his career as a head coach with the Grizzlies during the 2016-17 season. After seeing a modest 43-39 record in his rookie year, he began his sophomore campaign with the team aiming to set the bar higher. But after a 7-12 start, Memphis decided to go in another direction.
Fizdale was fired as the team's head coach, and while the media and everyone in the basketball world tried to figure out why, star C Marc Gasol's name began to surface.
There were reports that Gasol and Fizdale had tension, and it basically came down to the Grizzlies having to choose between their All-Star and the new head coach. Fizdale eventually got the boot, and both sides parted ways for the rest of the year.
Now, things come full circle as Fizdale brings his young, developing Knicks squad into Memphis, and Gasol knows it'll be a competitive matchup.
"To play against a former coach is always special, it's always a fun night," he told WATN after practice on Saturday.
Despite their disagreements, Gasol said he and Fizdale had a productive conversation over the summer.
"We spoke and we let each other know how we felt and we moved on," Gasol said.
So the beef is done?
"What happened or how it happened it's now irrelevant because one thing you cannot change is the past, but you change how you behave in the future and how you react to certain things," he noted.
Fizdale's coaching strategy clearly wasn't favored by Gasol, but during his short time in Memphis, he did develop a part of his current game that wasn't ther before Fizdale came in. The three-ball has been something Gasol has had success with, and he credits Fizdale with that.
"Without a doubt," he said. "And I'm a better player because of David too. I'll say that 100 percent. Even though last year was really tough for everyone, I'm a better player this year than I was last year and a lot had to do with him."
So, as Fizdale basks in the nostalgia of returning to his former home, Gasol knows they will both put the past behind them and show their respect before tip-off.
"I think we'll obviously both acknowledge each other and it's not that personal."