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Now the 7-foot-1 Marc is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year who played his first All Star game last season.

Conley, son of Olympic track star Mike Conley Sr., helped lead Ohio State to the national championship game as a freshman at Ohio State playing with Greg Oden. Memphis drafted him fourth overall in 2007 but was unhappy enough with the guard in 2009 that they were trying to trade him before Hollins argued to put him on the floor.

Conley led the NBA in steals this season and easily held his own against All-Star guard Chris Paul in the first series. His play has been so good this postseason that teammate Tony Allen keeps arguing Conley is among the top five in the NBA.

“With all those other point guards finishing up being hurt, Mike Conley’s name is in there,” Allen said. “Top five now I believe.”

Conley and Gasol had been together a season when Randolph joined Memphis in a trade that where the Clippers cleared a roster spot for Blake Griffin on July 17, 2009. Randolph fit right in both on the Grizzlies and in Memphis where his scrappy play with a vertical leap that barely goes past his outstretched toes has made him a fan favorite and a two-time All Star.

If Gasol or Conley have the hot hand shooting, Randolph said he can be a decoy as he was most of the semifinal series against Oklahoma. He broke out with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the series clincher Wednesday night, and Randolph knows he’ll get more space to operate under the basket when Gasol and Conley score away.

“Our chemistry is great,” Randolph said. “We’ve been doing this for five … years. We feed off each other and play off each other.”

Now the Memphis Three have their sights set on a championship knowing they have to find a way to beat Duncan, Parker and Ginobili to have a chance.

“Their big three done won championships and did a lot more than our big three,” Randolph said. “We’re just trying to get to where they’re at.”


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