describe last night’s Grizzlies Clippers game from the point of view of a
Grizzlies fan, or player. The
feeling in FedEx Forum and in the entire city of Memphis is not something I’m
trying to capture, as I’m sure Mr. Calkins will or has expressed the same very
eloquently (I don’t know, because when games like this happen to my teams, I
can’t stand the thought of watching, listening to, or reading the media on the
subject, and therefore have boycotted it since the second Rudy Gay’s jumper came
up short). However to throw my two
cents in from a personal standpoint I would use
shocking…demoralizing…extraordinary…agonizing…disheartening, and absolutely
heart-breaking. Maybe the best way
to describe the feeling, (and this is attributed to my father and his
description of witnessing the Cardinals lose game 2 of the World Series on a
blown save in the 9th inning) is the sick feeling in your heart and stomach when your pet dies.
Am I a grown man too overly invested in my teams and sports outcomes?
Sure. Is that wrong?
That answer probably changes with the reader. But
I have no doubt there are plenty of Memphians on my side of that
I also have no doubt that many fans didn’t see the end
of the game, whether they went to sleep, changed the channel, assumed the game
was in the bag, or a combination of the three. I certainly watched until the end, but
that doesn’t mean I’m any more innocent than those that didn’t.
When the fourth quarter started, I started keeping track of the score for
the quarter, thinking that as long as the Clippers don’t outscore us by 21,
we’re up 1-0. Coincidentally (or in an incredible act of stupidity on my part) I did the same thing at the 2:09
mark of the 2008 National Championship Game between the Memphis Tigers and
Kansas Jayhawks. I sincerely apologize to the city of Memphis for both events
and promise to never do it again. But at some point under the 10 minute
mark I decided to get a jumpstart on my Monday, and periodically check the game
that was on in the background.
Maybe our players did the same.
Maybe the Clippers were just better.
Maybe the Clippers deserved a miracle. I don’t know the reason
for the collapse, and to be perfectly honest I don’t care.
Mr. Hollins is a wonderful coach and I’m sure he can address and correct
My concern is in moving forward. Is it too much for the players to
handle, to forget about, and to come back from? I don’t know.
They’re human beings, and I imagine it would be incredibly hard for any
of us. On the other hand, they’re
also professionals. Part of their
job description is to focus on the game in front of you.
But I think we’ll find out soon enough if “grit and grind” is just a
catchy slogan or an actual way of life for this team, and this city.
My hope is that this is a team, a city, and a fan base of
faith. Faith in the
cliché-that-never-makes-anyone-feel-better “everything happens for a
reason”. Faith that every single
player had to have this happen, for
something that is yet to be determined.
Faith that this is part of the process, and part of the plan.
Faith that in order to do something truly incredible, truly
inspirational, and truly amazing, you have to start with nothing…at rock
bottom. Isn’t it better to
collapse in Game 1 than a Game 7?
In the Western Conference Finals?
In the NBA Finals?
Roll your eyes, laugh, whatever you want, but I believe this team can win the whole
thing. I still believe.
Part of our job as fans, as human beings supporting other human beings, is to believe in others to
the extent that our faith, our relentless, unwavering,
others-think-we’re-ignorant faith, overwhelms even those that we’re supporting
so that they have no choice but to have that same faith in themselves. After all, people have a tendency to
live up to expectations.
I watch sports because it is my reality television.
I watch sports because you're witness to things that others would have to
see to believe.
I watch sports because there is always hope in a dream, no matter how unlikely it seems at the
I watch sports because every year, we get to watch in awe as some amazing story develops.
If the Miami Heat win the NBA Championship, it will assuredly be well
deserved. But you’d be hard
pressed to find many people who found that to be truly amazing.
Should the Memphis Grizzlies win the NBA Championship (or even get to the
Finals for that matter), we will all, even the non-Memphians, watch in awe as
the story of the heart-broken, rock bottom, historic lead-blowing team,
develops. It will be our faith,
our team’s faith, and our city’s faith, that took us there.
If we don’t show up on Wednesday, if the team
doesn’t show up on Wednesday, everyone will understand.
If we lose the series 4-1 or get swept, people will attribute it to the
emotional damage caused by the shock of Sunday night.
After all, we’re just Memphis.
But if we ever want to be champions, we have to learn to get up off the
mat. As a team, as fans, and as a
city. To borrow a quote from
Sylvester Stallone and his alter ego Rocky
Let me tell you something you already know.
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and
I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there
permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But
it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get
hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and
get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not
pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or
anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!
We all know the Grizzlies playoff mantra written across the yellow towels.
And we all know that faith, and keeping faith, is most difficult when
things are at their worst. I still believe.
To borrow a quote from Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry and Neal Schon…
Don’t Stop Believing Memphis.