Back in July, the Memphis Grizzlies and Mike Conley came to terms on a new max contract that would keep him on the same team he has played with his entire nine-year NBA career. Thanks to a $24 billion broadcast deal reached by the league with ESPN and TNT, and the ownership's willingness to bump up the salary cap from $70 million to $94.14 million going into the 2016-17 campaign, Conley was able to reap the rewards. Still, that didn't stop people from being overly critical when he signed a five-year, $153 million deal, the largest contract in league history.
Now, every away game comes with its fair share of critics. When the Grizzlies took on the New York Knicks on Saturday, the Madison Square Garden crowd showered him with an "overrated" chant.
So, how does Conley feel about people bashing his new deal? “It doesn’t bother me, at all,” he told Sporting News. “It’s part of it. I’m in a blessed situation. When I hear the talk, when I look on my phone and see messages on Twitter about it, it really pushes me, to be honest. So I know it’s going to come. There’s gonna be a lot of talk about it all season, no question. But it’s already here. I almost look forward to playing on the road, for that very reason.”
All the criticism about his contract has proven to have a positive impact on his game. Conley is posting career-highs in points (19.7), and assists (6.7), but of course, it should be noted that the Grizzlies have only played in three games. “I’ll show people what I can do,” Conley said. “The way I look at it, this is a new opportunity for me. I can’t wait.” So far, though, it looks like Conley is focused on proving all the doubters wrong.
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