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Grizzlies’ Mike Conley felt guilt over David Fizdale’s firing

Mike Conley, David Fizdale, Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies suffered one of their most woeful seasons in recent history, as a plethora of injuries, combined with a questionable offseason, resulted in the team landing in the Western Conference cellar from the onset.

Former coach David Fizdale (now with the New York Knicks) was the first to pay for the consequences, being fired after a nine-game losing and a fallout with franchise star Marc Gasol.

Point guard Mike Conley missed seven of those games during that stretch and felt so responsible for Fizdale’s firing that he reached out to his then-coach through FaceTime to apologize, according to Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.

“It was tough because I knew the reason we lost nine in a row is because I wasn’t out there and wasn’t able to play and really put him in a tough situation,” Conley told Yahoo Sports. “I said, ‘Man, I hate this happened. I feel like I’m a part of the reason this happened.’ He was like, ‘Aw, Mike, man, naw. It had nothing to do with you, you know that. Without you, we still should win games.’ … I still felt some guilt for it. He assured me he’s good and that’s all that matters at the end of the day, being in New York now. So I’m thankful to have had him as a coach.”

Fizdale was known as a players’ coach during his time as an assistant with the Miami Heat, but that quality rubs some players in a good way and clashes with certain others.

The 44-year-old coach reportedly butted heads with Gasol after giving a rah-rah speech to his locker room, getting into it with Gasol and undermining his international achievements, implying they are nowhere near as impressive as the two championship rings on his fingers.

Conley will now have to make the most of this season with current coach J.B. Bickerstaff, hoping their new addition in rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. can provide enough of a spark to bring his team back to relevance in an ultra-competitive West.