Category Archives: Memphis Grizzlies

Joe Jackson Arrested, David Fizdale Speaks Out, Politics & Sports

JOE JACKSON ARRESTED

The news broke Wednesday evening that former Tiger great Joe Jackson was arrested in Memphis on gun and drug charges.

Even with the presumption of innocence, it’s a depressing turn for a guy who once held the entire hopes of the Memphis Iprogram on his slight but legendarily sturdy shoulders.

Here’s hoping that Jackson, a 2014 U of M graduate, moves past this incident and onto better things.

For fans of the program, the narrative arc of Jackson’s basketball career is just more evidence that the overwhelming majority of D1 caliber Memphis High School players are better off at non-local colleges and that the U of M Basketball program is better off with a roster made up primarily of non-local prospects.

That fact has now been proven, in my estimation, beyond a reasonable doubt.

FIZDALE SPEAKS OUT

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale spoke out Wednesday on President Trump’s recent comments regarding the racial violence last weekend in Charlottesville, VA.

My first reaction after reading Fizdale’s comments was to think that the “stick to sports” takes would pile up pretty fast and ignite something of a firestorm in Memphis.

As of this evening, it appears my first reaction was wrong.

That’s a good thing for all of us.

It’s 2017.

Sports and politics are irreversibly intertwined.

People seem to be getting used to that fact.

Sports as a powerful political platform are nothing new.  Whether it’s Muhammad Ali taking a stand against the Vietnam WarBlack Power salutes in 1968 Olympics or Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem – athletes have been using their platform to draw attention to political causes for decades.

Furthermore, in the Twitter age, everyone has a platform.  Why should athletes and coaches be criticized for doing what the rest of us do all day long?

They shouldn’t.

Thankfully, it appears increasingly that they aren’t.

SPORTS DIMINISHED & DEBASED

Political viewpoints aside, one sad development to me is how much the current social media and political environment seems to have taken away from our collective enjoyment of sports.

Politics and sports overlap quite a bit. The same types of people are drawn to both and follow both.

In a normal political and social environment, the month of August (for sports fans in Memphis, anyway) would be dominated by anticipation of the upcoming football and basketball seasons. Twitter and casual conversation would be geared toward SEC football practice, the Tigers, etc…

2017 isn’t normal. 

In our current environment, politics is sucking all the oxygen out of the room.  Watching national politics in 2017 is akin to binge watching 5 seasons of a Netflix series in the course of one weekend.  It’s riveting, but the laundry and grocery shopping won’t be getting done.

Even the local sports dialogue that does break through the noise has necessarily assumed the same toxic divisive tone of our political discourse. The local media’s coverage of Memphis Tiger Basketball Head Coach Tubby Smith, for example, has been dark, cynical and I wonder if it isn’t tinged with a vague subconscious racial animus.

Would a white coach with Tubby Smith’s credentials be taking the same kind of heat?

I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question to ask isn’t it?

Curses Aren’t Real

Curses aren’t real. Neither are jinxes, hexes, or voodoo.

There’s bad luck though, and it sure seems like great Memphis Tiger basketball players have suffered more than their fair share of it after leaving college.

I’m going to limit this mostly to players during my lifetime. The obvious place to start here is Keith Lee.  If you are somehow not familiar with Keith Lee, first off shame on you, secondly you should know he’s unquestionably one of the greatest college basketball players in history.

Lee was a four time All American at Memphis State. He averaged around 18 and 10, and was a stretch four before that was a thing that even existed. In high school, in West Memphis, Lee won 60 straight games and two state championships. He had great hands, great touch and a high basketball IQ. Unfortunately, Lee had bad knees and flamed out in the NBA. He played three unremarkable seasons after being drafted 11th and then was forced to retire.

As great as Lee was, he might not have been the most talented player on his college team. William Bedford was a 7-foot, extremely skilled player.  He had touch around the rim, was a terrific shot blocker, and ran the floor like a guard. Bedford averaged 17 and 8 his last year (1986) at Memphis State and was then drafted 6th by the Phoenix Suns in the subsequent lottery.

Things went south pretty quickly for Bedford in the NBA.  His performance on the court was poor: he averaged about 4 points and 2 rebounds.  Off court things were much worse as Bedford struggled mightily with a drug problem.  He was arrested several times and eventually, in 2003, after numerous drug arrests he was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The next in the line of great Memphians is Anfernee Hardaway. This is obviously a different kind of story from the previous two. Hardaway was a Memphis legend by the time he was 16.  His high school games were events.  He was Lebron before Lebron, 6’7 with the passing vision of Magic and the athleticism of Jordan. He was a force.

Hardaway dominated in college and carried an otherwise not very talented team to an Elite 8. He averaged 22.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 6.4 apg, 2.4 spg his Junior year.  He was basically the number one pick in the NBA draft. (Chris Webber was selected 1st by Orlando and Penny 3rd by Golden State but the teams then traded the players to each other.)

Hardaway’s pro career started off incredibly. In his 2nd year he averaged 20.9 ppg, 7.2 apg, 4.4 rpg, and 1.7 spg. He was an All Star starter and 1st team all-NBA. The next year he was all-NBA first team again, and finished 3rd in the MVP voting.  The next year Shaquille O’Neal left for the Lakers and Penny’s numbers suffered, but only slightly.  He finished All-NBA 3rd Team.

Hardaway dragged his team to the playoffs only to fall to Jordan’s Bulls.  He averaged 31 points, 6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.4 steals in the playoffs.

The only reasonable conclusion to draw after the first 4 years of Anfernee Hardaway’s professional career is that he had a chance to be one of the greatest players in NBA history.  Other than outside shooting, there were no holes in his game.

In 1997-1998, Hardaway was entering what is considered a player’s basketball prime – 24-29 years of age. Early that year he suffered a massive knee injury and basically never recovered to his previous form. He ended up having four more surgeries, two microfracture, and lost a good deal of his athleticism.

Penny still managed to put up decent numbers and have a 16-year NBA career.  He made an insane amount of money as well, buoyed by one of the richest contracts in NBA history. He also had an iconic Nike shoe campaign. Still, it’s hard not to look back and wonder what could have been had injuries not derailed his playing career. At minimum, it seems he would have had a Hall of Fame career. At most, you’re looking at a possible basketball immortal, remembered forever.

Here’s another kind of story: Lorenzen Wright. Most of you are probably familiar with this one.  Great college career, 7th pick in the NBA draft.  A very solid if unspectacular 13 year NBA career, including a productive stint with his hometown Grizzlies. Then, the ultimate tragedy. A year after his retirement, he went missing. Ten days later, his body was found dead in a wooded area off Hacks Cross Road. The homicide remains unsolved, though Wright had financial troubles, marital troubles, and had ties to known criminals.

The first big time player of the John Calipari era was Dajuan Wagner.  Wagner was another high school legend, a cult hero in his hometown of Camden, NJ.  He reportedly scored 100 in a high school game, and averaged 42 points a game his Senior year.

Wagner’s lone year at Memphis was a little disappointing as the team never gelled, but they did win the NIT. I’m sure everyone remembers the parade Calipari threw for winning that championship.  Wagner averaged 21 points that season and was subsequently taken with the 6th pick in the 2002 NBA draft, by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wagner had a mediocre rookie season, scoring 16 a game but shooting a pathetic 37 percent from the field. Things only got worse. The next year he was hospitalized for ulcerative colitis.  After not responding to medication he eventually had to have his colon removed.  Wagner attempted a few comebacks after that but they never materialized. His professional career can only be described as a total disappointment.

That brings us to Derrick Rose.  Having only logged one year at Memphis, he cannot be remembered alongside some of the other Tiger greats but in terms of sheer talent he’s probably just below Penny.  Rose was a free throw away from winning an NCAA Championship and was subsequently the number one pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, his hometown team.

Rose was terrific right away, an All-Star in his second season, an MVP in his third, the youngest player to ever win that award.  Much like Penny, the sky was the limit for Rose. He had won the MVP before entering the prime of his career.

In the playoffs of Rose’s 4th season, he tore his ACL. He missed the entire next season in a prolonged rehabilitation. The following season he came back but tore his meniscus in November and missed the rest of that year also. It’s been one setback after another since the first injury and Rose hasn’t come close to the form he showed in his MVP season.

Rose injured his orbital bone before the start of this season and currently ranks as the WORST veteran starter in the NBA. He’s shooting 36 percent from the field.  He simply doesn’t resemble the player he was.

Injuries, drugs, murder, illness. The fate of some of the greatest talents in Memphis history is pretty depressing.

I have, of course, glossed over some players who have had less turbulent success. Tyreke Evans is having a nice NBA career. Will Barton is turning into a real NBA player. Back in the 70’s Larry Kenon had a long and successful career, although his teammate and fellow Memphis legend Larry Finch had only a disappointing three year ABA career.

I didn’t even get to Shawne Williams, another extremely talented product of the Calipari era who has had endless legal troubles since getting into the league, including a recent DUI arrest.

I don’t really draw any larger sweeping conclusion from this list but maybe others do. I think it’s basically just odd, rotten luck. Though it’s certainly a tempting tableau for those who want to see Memphis as a cursed, sad sack, never-can-quite-get-there city.

Luck can change though. Hopefully the next Memphis stars, maybe beginning with Dedric Lawson, have long, successful, productive NBA careers, not marred by injury or scandal.  One can hope.

 

Random Thoughts on Bowen, Rudd, Calipari, Kids Tables, Pastner and Grizz

Took some time off from the blog after the Tigers’ season ended, but so many of you my dad have been clamoring asked once about when I might write again so here goes. Just a few tidbits:

  • If Tom Bowen stays at Memphis and somehow helps maneuver the Tigers into the Big XII (odds are slim), I’m taking partial credit.
  • One of our last posts was a story about how Bowen was a finalist for the AD position at Cal. It appears in the aftermath of that development, Bowen may have secured some type of contract extension at Memphis. This week, UM President David Rudd announced on Twitter that Bowen will be staying with the Tigers.
  • I suppose it’s a positive that Bowen is staying at Memphis. He’s overseen a remarkable turnaround in the football program – and surely he deserves some of the credit even though Justin Fuente was hired before him and is the primary architect of the rebuild.
  • Therefore, before we go building any statutes for Bowen, Tiger fans should expect to see (a) the promised facility projects materialize on South Campus and (b) a renewed focus on shedding the recent narrative that men’s basketball is no longer competing at an elite national level in terms of resources.
  • While it isn’t fair to judge Bowen exclusively on whether or not Memphis gets into a P5 conference (so much of that is beyond his control), he surely is expected to best position his athletic department for such inclusion. Doing that means that in addition to building football – he must continue working towards top notch facilities for all sports and the maintenance of a top 25 basketball program.
  • Speaking of David Rudd – kudos to him for playfully firing back at John Calipari for his comments that coaching at Memphis was like being at the “kid’s table.”
  • Calipari was trying to make a point that he would not have had the opportunity to be elected to the Hall of Fame (which he was recently) had he not gotten a job at a “Power” school – as he did in 2009 at Kentucky.
  • Forgetting for a moment whether or not Calipari’s jab was intentional (I don’t think so) or just typically self-centered in its speakers disregard for whom it might offend (I think so) – it’s factually incorrect.
  • Here is a partial list of College Basketball coaches outside the “power” structure (at the time they coached) elected to the Naismith HOF: Edgar Diddle (Western Kentucky), Harry Litwack (Temple), Eddie Hickey (Creighton), Ray Meyer (DePaul), Stan Watts (BYU), Al McGuire (Marquette), Denny Crum (Louisville), Pete Carrill (Princeton), Don Haskins (UTEP), John Chaney (Temple), Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV).
  • If Calipari is looking for a distinguishing factor here – it’s probably that all of the coaches listed above were better floor coaches than him.
  • The Kentucky job may have afforded Calipari the opportunity to be in the HOF, but it’s also cemented his reputation as a less than elite game coach. To have one title in 6 years with all the talent he’s amassed in Lexington is a bit of a disappointment.
  • That being said, I still think Calipari’s election is deserved. I realize I’m offering a nuanced position here, but he is clearly the best program builder / re-builder of this era (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky all reached the Final 4 under his watch), and is also a top notch developer of talent.
  • Bottom line – Calipari excels at gathering and developing teams and talent – but his approach has flaws as well.
  • Still, Memphis fans need to forgive. For their own program’s health.
  • Speaking of the current Memphis program – nice to see an unheralded local kid – G Jeremiah Martin – get rewarded with a scholarship.
  • It’s undoubtedly a sign of the damage which the fan unrest has had on recruiting that Memphis fans are now celebrating stealing a Louisiana Tech recruit, but so what? Memphis fans are hopeful that Martin is interested in becoming an elite defender and offensive facilitator at the college level.
  • As Josh Pastner continues assembling a roster for 2015-16, let’s hope he remember the lessons of his first 6 years: It’s important to have guys that are willing to accept roles, including the role of sitting on the bench.
  • Pastner needs an 8 or 9 man rotation – and he also needs 3 guys that are capable of stepping in, but humble enough to sit on the bench and work for that opportunity. Every team needs this, but in the past Pastner has had to kick guys off in order to whittle the rotation to 8 or 9. He and the program can’t afford another year like that in 15-16.
  • Quick note on the Grizzlies: while it’s exciting that the playoffs are here, it’s alarming to see what a free-fall the team is in.
  • If they somehow end up with home court vs. Portland – all is well that ends well. Get healthy and let’s go.
  • If they end up without home court – it’s a major disappointment – but not the end of the world.
  • And either way, if they flame out in the 1st round of the playoffs – then the fear of losing Marc Gasol will get real, quite quickly – and the mood in this city is going to change swiftly.

 

Lionel Hollins, Grizzlies Story Has Happy Ending (Video)

Lionel Hollins returned to Memphis tonight – and everything was as it should be.

Hollins is in his element – trying to change the culture of the Brooklyn Nets franchise. His team (21-31) is struggling now, and the franchise is for sale – but here’s hoping he gets the opportunity to continue an overhaul in Brooklyn.

The Grizzlies have moved on nicely as well. Hollins’ former players are veterans now – and perhaps Dave Joerger’s more balanced style is a better for fit for what the franchise needs at this point in time.

All’s well that ends well.

To top it all off – the Grizzlies put together a touching tribute video to Hollins, which resulted in a great ovation for the former coach. It was a cool moment. If you missed it, here’s the video:

Do Grizzlies Fans Really, Actually, Honestly, Believe?

The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night to run their record to 38-13, good for 2nd place in the Western Conference. With 31 regular season games left in the season, Memphis is on a trajectory for the best season in franchise history and is widely considered to be a legitimate contender for an NBA title.

The playoffs will be here before we know it.

So the question must be asked: Do Grizzlies fans actually believe?

I know we are willing to hold up a towel that says we believe.

But do we actually, honestly, truly believe the Grizzlies will win the NBA title?

Several years ago, the fine marketing team for the Grizzlies introduced the Believe Memphis campaign. It was a wild success. The slogan appeared on growl towels, which gave it national attention during a memorable playoff run. The combination of the slogan, the towels and, of course, a winning basketball team left an indelible image of the city and the franchise.

But the slogan itself, if we’re being honest, was somewhat premature, wasn’t it?

Because most people didn’t really believe. Most people didn’t really believe the Grizzlies would beat the Spurs, or the Cavs – if it got that far. Could they beat them? Sure. Would they? No, we didn’t really believe that. And they didn’t.

But this year? This year, it’s time to start believing. Like, actually, really believing.

And maybe it actually matters if we do.


What if believing actually made a difference? What if believing mattered?

Luna Grace Childs - Certified Life Coach, Professional Intuitive & Spiritual Mentor
Luna Grace Childs – Certified Life Coach, Professional Intuitive & Spiritual Mentor

Luna Grace Childs (left) is a spiritual mentor, professional intuitive, and energy specialist. She works out of Little Rock and Memphis as a certified life coach, Reiki master teacher, spiritual mentor, and meditation coach.

I talked to Luna because I wanted her professional opinion about the power of belief as it regards the Grizzlies, the city of Memphis and its fans.

I wanted to understand – from a professional intuitive’s perspective – what all this unseen, un-quantifiable “energy” surrounding the Grizzlies means, if anything, in terms of their actual results.

Here is what she had to say about all this Believe Memphis stuff:

As a professional intuitive, and energy specialist- does Believe Memphis have any actual power? Or, in other words, is the power of intention a real thing?

In the last decade, the power of intentionhas become a cultural buzz word. With the release of the book and film The Secret,by Australian Rhonda Byrne, everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Jim Carrey are talking about it. Honestly, though, theres nothing newor even secretabout it. For more than a century, success experts have advocated and encouraged the power of intention as the key to success.

The Science of Getting Rich written by Wallace D. Wattles and published in 1910 introduced the idea of using intention and creative visualization to attract wealth, overcome emotional barriers, and apply foolproof methods to bring financial success into your life.

Today, science, particularly quantum physics, is catching up with what ancient mystics have always known, that what is perceived as reality is a result of a projection of the mind. One such field of study is the Heisenberg Principal (or Uncertainty Principle) which proves that by simply observing something (thinking about it) you effect the outcome.

Before any of this though, spiritual teachers taught and demonstrated the power of intention. Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have scriptures supporting the power of intention. The Buddha taught, Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, and produced by mind.The Dhammapada

But keep in mind the law of attraction doesn’t only work to bring us good. Anything we give our energized thoughts to, and by energized we are specifically meaning emotionalized thoughts, thoughts mixed with strong emotions like excitement, love, fear, anxiety, these will super-charge thought energy and set the law of attraction in motion. A clear example of this can be seen in Job 3:25 when he said, “Because a dreadful thing I have dreaded, it has come upon me. And what I have been scared of comes to me.”

So it’s pretty clear that the Grizzlies players themselves could benefit from having actual belief in their own abilities, but that makes logical sense. In other words – the better they are at basketball (i.e. winning games) – the more they’re going to believe in themselves and that will have an effect. But that’s, again, very logical and kind of a chicken or egg question. But what about the fans? Does the collective belief or energy of a fan base really matter?

In a sense, we see this in arenas of every sport: A booing crowd or negative hometown newspaper can demoralize a team, whereas a supportive home crowd, may lift that teams confidence in itself, creating a home court advantage.” Though that’s somewhat tangible.

In spiritual or metaphysical circles, wed call it picking up on vibration,” “energy,or frequency.Its like when your spouse or teacher walks in the room and you can just feel theyve had a bad day – it can even rub off on you, and now youre anxious and on edge too. We spiritualists like to call that being an empath.

So the energy of a fan base – or a city – can work for good or for bad? 

Most of us have heard of mass hysteria – other names include collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior. In medicine the term is used to describe manifestation of the same or similar physical symptoms by more than one person when a group of people believe they are suffering from a similar disease or ailment.

Theres a similar phenomenon called collective effervescence, a sociological concept introduced by Émile Durkheim. According to Durkheim, a community or society may at times come together and simultaneously communicate the same thought and participate in the same action. Such an event then causes collective effervescence which excites individuals and serves to unify the group.

So, bottom line, as an intuitive and a native Memphian who is familiar with this city, its energy and the NBA team here – what do you see happening for the Grizzlies?

Well, Im no fortune teller, so I dont make predictions about the future. I do observe and attempt to operate within the spiritual laws that are common throughout faith traditions and cultures. For Memphis, what that means to me, is that theres a lot more to it than just setting intention to win and Believing Memphis.

There are two spiritual Laws that in my opinion and personal experience trump the Law of Attraction. These are the Laws of Reciprocity and Harmony. It is supported by the concept of The Secret which states that like attracts like, which means that the energy you put into the worldboth good and badis what you get back. But, thats not just thoughts, beliefs, and conscious intentions. Theres more to it than that: theres the underlying motives and our contribution to the greater good – are we aligned with the spiritual laws of Reciprocity and Harmony?

Explain reciprocity and harmony further – is it implying that somehow there’s a earned aspect to all of this?

Reciprocity is not a new idea, some call it karma, reaping what you sow, or getting what you give. Are we giving what we hope to receive? Are we doing unto othersas we would have them do unto us? The Grizzlies organization certainly make a contribution through their TEAM UP campaign, contributing millions to nonprofit organizations in the city of Memphis. Thats a good start. Now, how can we, as fans do well unto others? How may we contribute to the greater good?

And finally, at work is the Law of Harmony, the supreme ruler of the universe. Harmony sees to is that all things work in balance between opposing forces. It is the mediator of the idea that all is connected and all are one. Opposition to this law causes fear, mistrust, loneliness, aggression, and suffering.

In sports, this shows up not only as conflict between teams; but within the group, between the players, with the coaches and referees, and in the crowd. How many fans have witnessed fights in the stands? To some, this may be part of the excitement of the game-going experience. It cannot, and will not, however, spell victory for the team.

So the Clippers have absolutely no shot, right? The Clippers are awful people.

To work within the Law of Harmony, one must love thy neighbor as thyself.

So, in order for Believe Memphisto work, to really work, from a spiritual perspective, it will take more than billboards, towels, and t-shirts. It will have to be about more than the Grizzlieswin. It must be expanded to a vision and commitment to uplift the city, to cultivate a sense of community, to inspire younger generations to live their dreams – and to take action on these commitments.

Further, it will have to be a slogan that inspires and encourages harmony. Can we believe in Memphis enough to love the opposing team as we love the Grizzlies? Can we believe in Memphis enough to pray for their health and success as we pray for that of our beloved Grizzlies?

I believe that we can, and if we do, we will do more than win a title, we will transform the city in which we live and work. Which, by natural extension, will transform our homes, our jobs, our families, and our world.


 Sounds like a plan to me. Unless we play the Clippers.

If you want to contact Luna Grace Childs, here is a link to her website.

Tigers Let Down, Messed Around

You know that famous song by The Foundations?

The one at the end of There’s Something About Mary?

The “build me up” song?

Of course you know it. Everybody knows it.

Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around
And then worst of all (worst of all)….

And then worst of all, you blow a 17 point lead.

And then worst of all, you go into deep freeze offensively.

And then worst of all, your team leader and star Austin Nichols goes down with a gruesome lower leg injury.

And then worst of all, you fail to get back and adequately contest the last second shot after taking a lead with 7 seconds to go.

And then worst of all, you lose what could have been a huge momentum building win against a good (top 35 RPI) Temple team heading into the final month of the season.

And then worst of all, you go from maybe the most hopeful moment of the season to the darkest in a period of 91 minutes.

Sigh. 

The story can be summed up by two separate tweets, 91 minutes apart, from Tiger beat reporter Jason Smith:

First, the high:

And then, a mere 91 minutes later – in the aftermath of the crash:

If you haven’t already read about the game – here’s Smith’s game story in the CA.

Let’s hear from some of our friends:

Philosophic Phil:

  • The injury to Austin Nichols is a very good reminder of a few things. One, that Nichols’ long term health is the really important story in all this. The young man has a bright future ahead of him in the game of basketball and the news that his injury was not an ACL tear was a huge relief.
  • It’s also a reminder of why there’s so much pressure to redefine the concept of amateurism to reflect economic realities. Austin Nichols, and other stars of the college game, need insurance to guard against the economic effect of a serious injury. They need the advice of agents. And there’s an argument to be made that they need to be able to capitalize on their stardom as soon as possible.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
  • If you’re adamantly against relaxing the rules on amateur athletes making money – I’d point you to the wall art in the Finch Center (left) – where Memphis Practices. It says “Do Your Job” – these guys work for the University and what they’re putting on the line becomes really clear in moments like Saturday’s – when Nichols went down. I’m not for paying college athletes a salary – but there are some other things that are being done that are long overdue.

Negative Nellie:

  • Where has this Shaq Goodwin been? This isn’t a negative comment per se – because Shaq was in full beast mode pulling down 23 rebounds. Yet it does highlight the obvious question: Why can’t he give this kind of effort more consistently? Maybe this will wake him up to do just that. Like Tarik Black before him – he has the physical tools to play at the next level if he can find the effort to match.
  • The Tigers (obviously) needed to do a much better job of getting back on defense to contest that last shot. To be fair, Temple just made a good play – but there was a lack of urgency on the part of Memphis’ guards, and it cost them. If you missed the play, I’ve copied the video at the end of this post.
  • If we’re gonna nit-pick, it might have been nice to have a time-out in that spot to set up your defense.

Realistic Ralph:

  • It’s really hard to imagine Memphis doing anything but struggling immensely without Austin Nichols available over the next few weeks.
  • The Tigers will now lack their best offensive and defensive player – and the one guy who’s been consistent all year in every way.
  • The season feels somewhat gone at this point. It will be a victory for Pastner to keep his guys fighting and to play .500 ball without Nichols in the lineup.   On a positive note – it will be chance for young guys like Trahson Burrell and Markel Crawford to play a ton of minutes. That’ll help the program going forward.

Here’s the final sequence, ICYMI:

 

 

Grizz TCB vs. Jazz – ZBo Hits Amazing Shot (vine)

 

  • The Grizzlies took care of business against Utah Wednesday night – beating the Jazz by a count of 100-90.
  • Memphis held the inferior Jazz at a safe distance most of the night. Though Utah stayed within shouting distance, the outcome of this one never felt in doubt.
  • Memphis matched the longest win-streak in franchise history (8), and pushed their overall record to 37-12.
  • The Grizz look to extend their streak to the longest in franchise history Friday night at Minnesota.
  • I don’t know about you, but BBALLJONES believes in this team’s capacity to keep winning at the current rate. The Grizz have the look of an elite unit. If they can stay healthy, the next 3-4 months could be a very wild ride in the city of Memphis.
  • Marc Gasol led the Grizz with 23 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk.
  • ZBo had 18 and 11 – and this amazing shot…..

grizz

Dave Joerger: “We’re Lucky” (Post Suns 2/2)

Dave Joerger recognizes a gift when he sees it. After the Memphis Grizzlies escaped Phoenix Monday by a final score of 102-101, the head coach was blunt in his assessment (quotes courtesy of Fox Sports South):

“We’re lucky. You know we’re happy because we got out of here with a win in a game, where ya know – probably it should have gone the other way.”

You gotta respect that kind of self-awareness.

Joerger didn’t, however, fail to recognize that the Grizzlies did some stuff to make the luck happen:

When we were down late – 7, 8, we executed finally. Obviously Jeff (came) up with a big play.

Some other notes on the Grizz:

  • Memphis now moves to 36-12 on the season and sits a full 3 games ahead of Houston in 2nd place in the Western Conference. The Grizz are 2.5 games behind Golden State.
  • The win was Memphis’ 7th consecutive.
  • The Jeff Green trade seems to be working out doesn’t it?
  • Green didn’t have a great shooting night, but finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds – including the go-ahead 3-point play with 4.5 seconds remaining.
  • Zach Randolph – who has been on a tear of late – missed a double/double by 1 rebound. He finished with 19 and 9.
  • The Grizz continue their road trip on Wednesday night at Utah. 8pm.

Thunder Coach: Grizz Are a 2-Way Team Now

The word is out in the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies are no longer simply a Grit Grind operation.

Memphis pushed its record to 35-12 on Saturday night with an 85-74 win over the Thunder. The Grizz victory came on the strength – literally – of Grizzlies Veteran F Zach Randolph, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds and continues to play his best basketball in several years.

But it was Brooks’ comments before the game that tell the evolving story of why these Grizzlies appear to be rising to the proverbial ‘next level’ of the NBA hierarchy.

Brooks on the Grizzlies:

“They’re a good defensive team. They’re a 2-way team now. They used to just be a half court team. Just pound you inside and get an occasional jump shot. But now they defend and they score.”

 

“They’re playing a bit faster. This year they’ve made an effort to play with more pace. We have to take care of the basketball.”

When it comes to the Grizzlies – Brooks should know – Saturday night’s game was the 36th between the two clubs in the last 5 seasons. Two, 7-game playoff series breed familiarity.

About that taking care of the basketball thing? Mission not accomplished – the Thunder coughed it up 17 times against the active Grizzlies defense. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant had 4.

Watching the Grizzlies with all their main guys available – Mike Conley was back in the lineup on Saturday – has become a thing of beauty. That is if you like defense, precision passing and pace – as Brooks refers to it.

The word is out. The Grizz can beat you two ways.


 

Watch the full interview here (video courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder):

 

 

 

13 Grizzleaneous Thoughts (1/29/15)

Just got back from FedExForum – here are 13 thoughts on what I saw….

  • The Grizzlies smoked the Nuggets by 30, 99-69. The game was never competitive.
  • Memphis has now won 5 straight, and has pushed its record to a mind-boggling 34-12 on the year – good for 2nd place (by 2 games over Portland) in the Western Conference.
  • I say mind boggling because it is still difficult for a 37 year old, life long Memphian to grasp the reality that a genuine NBA championship contender is playing home games in downtown Memphis.
  • Make no mistake about it, the Grizzlies are genuine NBA championship contenders.
  • Don’t believe me? Take it from TNT Analyst Charles Barkley:

  • A lot can change between now and the playoffs (most notably injuries – like the one Vince Carter suffered tonight) but I’m not sure Memphians have fully digested the fact that the Grizzlies are arguably the best basketball team in the world.
  • For all the “Believe Memphis” hoopla – there really wasn’t a good reason to, ya know, actually believe Memphis could win the NBA Championship last year. Not after the Spurs crushed Memphis’ spirit in the 2013 Western Conference Finals, and amid the tumult which consumed the Grizzlies organization immediately afterward.
  • This year, there are good reasons to believe. Or at least right now, on January 29th , there appear to be.
  • One primary reason? Offense. The Grizz are top 10 in NBA offensive efficiency – to go along with their always stout (top 3) defense.
  • Another reason? ZBo. 
  • This is clearly the best Zach Randolph has looked in several years – he finished tonight with 15pts, 17rbs – and just has a bounce to his game he hasn’t had in quite some time.
  • The Carter injury did in fact look serious – we’ll know more on Friday.
  • Next up for the Grizz – an 8pm Saturday home date with OKC. The Thunder are still fighting to get back into the playoff picture. They currently sit 3.5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.

Grizzleaneous Thoughts (Post Mavs 1/19)

The Grizz dropped the MLK game to the Mavs, 103-95. Here are some Grizzleaneous thoughts:

  • This game felt like an 8-point loss from the tip. The Mavs jumped out to a quick start, and the Grizz never got over the hump.
  • No huge problem – dropping a January game to a very good Mavs team – a team only .5 games behind the Grizz for 3rd in the Western Conference Standings.
  • It’s interesting to contemplate what a 7-game series would look like between these two teams. Clearly, there’s a contrast in styles as the Mavs get almost all of their scoring on the perimeter while the Grizz relentlessly pound the paint.
  • One would think the Grizz would be able to find a way to jam up the Mavs, particularly beyond the arc where Dallas connected 10 times.
  • That way (of slowing down the Mavs) would probably include using Tony Allen for more than the 17 minutes he logged today.
  • Obviously the Grizz coaching staff is going to have to figure out the wing minutes – because what they did today wasn’t very effective. Courtney Lee shooting 1-6 from long range in 31 minutes didn’t help.
  • It’s just gonna take some time to figure out where exactly they want to be using Green and how to keep Allen more plugged in than he was today.
  • The refs sorta sucked.
  • Several phantom calls against the Grizz – continuation calls (and one no call) went against the Grizz – and a blatant travel by Tyson Chandler missed. Nothing really went the other way (for the Grizz).
  • I’m not a big “refs sucked” guy, but this one really did seem uneven – though the bigger discrepancy was in outside shooting.
  • The FedExForum / Grizz video crew assisted the fans’ protests by replaying the bad calls and then training the camera on the officials so that the crowd could clearly direct their boos in their direction. Good on the film people. It was a nice touch.
  • Went to the game with my buddy, Biscuit Man, whose season tickets are adjacent to the visitors tunnel. The seats allowed for some really good people watching.
  • FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (2)Had a nice look at Mavs front man Mark Cuban (far left), who was nice enough to pose for some fan pictures and sign some autographs.
  • Cubes wasn’t complaining about the refs after this one, that’s for sure.
  • Had a nice look at Grizz VP John Hollinger (left), who calmly took in the 4th quarter action from the tunnel.
  • Maybe it’s his reputation coloring my perception, but Hollinger looked emotionless and as if he was calculating some mathematical theorem in his head as the key moments of the game played out.
  • Had a nice look at the Grizz girls.
  • Had a real nice look at the Grizz girls – props again to Biscuit Man for these seats.

 

Grizzlies Opponents Admire Defense, Rebounding & Chemistry

The Memphis Grizzlies finished off a 2-0 road trip last night winning at Orlando 106-96. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies defeated Brooklyn and former coach Lionel Hollins. Memphis now gets 5 consecutive games at FedExForum – a great opportunity to stockpile some more wins heading to the halfway point of the season. The Grizzlies are currently 28-11 and within 4 games of the #1 seed, but also within 4 games of the #7 seed. The West is a grind – but Memphis is well positioned.

Understanding the Grizzlies from the point of view of their opponents is a good way to comprehend exactly why the Grizzlies are such a tough out right now, especially when fully healthy – and the answer isn’t groundbreaking. According to Nets and Magic players and coaches – the Grizzlies are NBA Championship contenders at the moment for 3 primary reasons: (1) Chemistry, (2) Defense, and (3) Rebounding. Here’s a quick summary of what the Grizzlies’ opponents had to say after facing them this week.

Quotes courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel and New York Post.

1. Experience and Chemistry:

Hollins on the fact that the Grizzlies have grown up together:

“Those guys were puppies, and now they’re men.”

“The nucleus has been there for a long time with Zach, Marc, Mike and Tony. Those guys have been there from the get and they are a big part of winning and as long as they are together they are going to have a winning [group].”

Orlando Magic Coach Jacque Vaughn on the Grizzlies experience:

“But you give those guys credit. They’ve been doing it together for a long time.”

2. Defense and Rebounding:

Hollins on what makes the Grizzlies so good:

“That’s what they do, they’ve got two big guys. … Zach had 20 points, Marc had 18 and most of them were in the paint for both of them. That’s their game. They’re a very good defensive team, they’re a very good rebounding team, and that’s why they’re one of the best teams in the league.”

Victor Oladipo’s take on the Grizzlies:

“It seemed like every option we had, they kind of took it away. We just had to play off instincts, really, and just go out there and figure out a way to score. But they’re a great defensive team, a great overall team. They’ve got great players over there, great defensive players over there.

Adding Jeff Green is going to help the team offensively – as will getting Mike Conley back healthy and everyone clicking together. But the key to this team has been and continues to be defense, rebounding and chemistry.

 

 

Forget Jeff Green, It’s Lionel Hollins Week for the Grizzlies

The Grizzlies beat the Suns Sunday in 2OT to snap a 2-game losing streak and move to 26-11 on the season. On Monday, they’ll welcome Jeff Green and Russ Smith to the team and then gear up for the final 4 games before the literal halfway point of the NBA season. The Memphis Grizzlies are legitimate NBA Title Contenders.

With the Green trade finalized and the team moving back to 15 games over .500, these are heady times for Grizzlies fans. But none of that qualifies as the most exciting part of the upcoming week.

The most exciting part of this week? A reunion with former Head Coach Lionel Hollins – who now coaches the Brooklyn Nets.

The Grizzlies play at Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Hollins had his new team solidly in playoff contention and playing .500 ball before a recent 5-game losing streak. The Nets, now in the 8th spot in the East, will be desperate to break their losing streak against the Grizzlies.

You gotta figure the NY media will ask Hollins about the Grizzlies, about the past, about the split. And you gotta figure Hollins will answer the questions. And you gotta figure his answer will be spontaneous, unfiltered, honest and probably hilarious.

Hollins, as you would expect, hasn’t stopped being a quote machine since moving north.

  • Last Thursday, Hollins called Brook Lopez “lazy” after he gave up on a play too early.
  • Hollins has been blunt in his assessment of his current team overall: “We are not a very good team.”
  • Hollins made waves when Prince William and Duchess Kate attended a Nets game earlier this year. Asked how he felt about their visit, Hollins made it clear he wasn’t impressed (from a FTW story, via Netsdaily):

“I don’t like answering those questions. What does it mean to me, or to any normal person? I wouldn’t be crazy even if the Pope came over…unless I was Catholic…. I mean, they’re just people that everybody sees on TV. Does that make them better people? They have more money than you, does that make them better people? It doesn’t make them better than you. I know a lot of people with money that I wouldn’t want to hang with…. They serve their purpose for their country, and they do what they do. If they came in and said they wanted to meet me, I’d be honored. But if they don’t, no sweat.”

That’s Lionel Hollins. He doesn’t GAF about the Prince of England and he doesn’t GAF about telling you that he doesn’t GAF. You really have to respect that. Let’s not rehash the stories about why Hollins fell out of favor with Grizz management and how all that stuff went down – Hollins will probably do that himself this week if someone bothers to ask him, which I’m sure they will. And whatever you think of it, it will be funny, and honest, and refreshing.

So let’s not re-litigate that conflict. Everyone has moved on anyway.

For now, let’s just admire a man who isn’t a corporate mouthpiece. Let’s admire a man who isn’t afraid to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants. And don’t misunderstand that. There are plenty of people in all walks of life who aren’t afraid to run their mouth – but who should be more discriminating because what they say isn’t true, or is hurtful, or hateful or otherwise ill conceived. What Hollins says is usually true, or merely his opinion, and it isn’t typically hurtful – and a lot of times it’s just funny as hell.

Hollins, as followers of the Grizzlies are well aware, is a throwback. Here’s a good piece done on Hollins by Johnette Howard of ESPN New York. In it, Hollins explains his methods, which are more about leadership and bringing about change than anger or politics:

“I am combative. I’m not afraid of conflict or confrontation. I am confrontational,” Hollins adds. “As a leader, you have to be. I mean, what do you get out of people if you just sit back and let them do what they want to do, without any confrontation? My feeling is there can be no change without confrontation. You go back through history, every change had some kind of conflict before there was change. Nobody is doing something different because they want to. It’s because somebody creates conflict that makes them.”

It was this brand of leadership and attitude that, in large part, made the current Grizzlies what they are. The players, the franchise, heck even the fan base – all have Hollins’ fingerprints on them. Before Hollins took over the Grizzlies in January of 2009, they had absolutely zero identity beyond that of a struggling, wayward franchise.

Sure, there are plenty of other people – players, management, etc – who have poured massive amounts of energy and effort into what the Grizzlies have become. But sometimes you get the feeling that Hollins burned so many bridges in Memphis that maybe he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I suspect we’ll hear more about that this week, too.

But let’s try not to really worry about that. This week, let’s just admire Hollins’ style as Memphians continue to enjoy the product he helped develop.

 

 

What is the Jeff Green Trade Really About? Sibling Rivalry

It’s not official yet, but the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies have reportedly come to terms on the basic elements of a trade that will end up with the Grizzlies acquiring a dynamic scorer, 6’8 swingman Jeff Green. Details are still being worked out, but assuming everything goes through, Memphis – according to at least one neutral national NBA writer (Bill Simmons) – is now a favorite to win the NBA’s Western Conference:

Screenshot 2015-01-10 at 4.38.40 PM

 

It’s hard to fathom isn’t it? Memphis. Potential Western Conference Champions. Memphis. Potential NBA Finals participant. Memphis. Potential NBA Champion. It’s been talked about all year – or at least since the Grizz got out of the gates with a 21-5 record. But now with yet another significant piece added – and comments like Simmons’ – it really feels possible. It’s beginning to sink in. For the moment, the Grizz are legitimate contenders for the NBA title.

So clearly this is about trying to win the NBA Championship, as hard as that is for a Memphian to fathom. But it’s just as much about next summer – when Marc Gasol will become an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps the most valuable free agent on the market.

Gasol loves Memphis – and is saying the right things to assure Memphis fans:

“I’ve been already through one,” Gasol says of the summer of 2011, when as a restricted free agent he re-signed with the Grizzlies for $58 million over four years, “and I did not especially enjoy it. I don’t know how I’m going to feel in July. I really don’t. This is the next five years of my life and I’m going to go all in. Whatever team you play for, you’ve always got to feel like you represent that team, that you’ve got to play for it. Because that’s the way we grew up in Spain. You play for the city. You play for a way of doing things. It’s not about you. I do this for them. I play for the city, for the franchise or whatever. You’ve got to have that pride that comes with it.”

So maybe Gasol is just a real Memphian – and maybe he’s all in no matter what. Maybe it’s a moot point – maybe he’d re-sign here if the Grizz flopped and proved to be pretenders instead of contenders. The Grizz can’t afford to take that chance.

The Grizz brass have to know that Gasol wants rings. After all, his older brother Pau – has rings. Like Peyton and Eli Manning, and every other pair of siblings before them, you have to know that Marc has some kind of burning desire to match or out do his big brother. That’s just how it goes when brothers compete – in the same endeavor – playing the same position. Sure, Marc’s a great player in his own right – and arguably better than Pau – but Pau has rings. Marc has no rings.

The Grizzlies have to convince Marc Gasol that they’re be a real contender. Real contenders have dynamic, athletic scorers on the wing. The Grizzlies are on the precipice. They have to take their absolute best shot, right now. There might not be another shot. The whole thing could come apart. If Gasol leaves. That’s what bringing Green in is about – obviously. Saying – hey – we might win the whole freaking thing right now. This move is about adding another crucial piece to the 4 man core (Allen, Conley, Randolph, Gasol). Now, there’s a solid, no questions asked, starting 5. Now, the Grizzlies can make that run. Take their shot.

The Grizzlies are trying to go from plucky, upstart, grit grind, underdog – to real NBA contender. It appears with the Green trade they may have done just that.

Big brother beware.

How to Cope Emotionally with Tiger Losses

On the off chance that any reader of this blog doesn’t already know this: I’m a Memphis Tiger basketball fan. Have been since 1985. 30 years.

I’m not a casual fan. Like most fans, I have an emotional history with the enterprise. For example, in 1990, the day after a particularly difficult season ending Tiger loss (to UT in the 1st round of the NIT) I was riding in a car with my mother when Phil Collins’ then hit song, “I Wish It Would Rain Down” came on the radio. I cried. I cried because I really wanted it to rain down on me. I wanted the rain to cleanse and renew me. I wanted the rain to wash away the overwhelming sense of loss and emptiness I felt after having invested so much energy and emotion into the outcome of that, and every, Tiger season. I connected with Collins’ visceral need for renewal in the depths of despair and failure. I had absolutely no idea at the time what he was actually singing about – I was 13 – but I freaking knew what he was singing about. Despair.

There’s also the anger. Most of these episodes were sort of like blackouts and what was conscious was quickly repressed- so the details are fuzzy – but I’ve thrown books, scared dogs, friends, and family members; damaged relationships, said things nobody should say about other human beings, stormed out of games and more. Worse.

The bottom line: I don’t like it when the Tigers lose. And that’s kind of the bad news.

But here’s the good news:

Over the years I’ve developed a method to circumvent these painful emotions.  It goes like this….

LUXURIATE IN THE WINS AND PRETEND THE LOSSES NEVER HAPPENED

This is a simple method and it generally works well. For example, I’ll typically watch wins on replay right after the game. I’ll read all the articles about wins. I’ll tune into talk radio after wins. I’ll check the RPI, the next few weeks’ schedule, maybe even check out some other college basketball just to see what’s happening. Why not? Good vibes all around. Soak it in. Really feel it.

After losses, on the other hand……………………………………….

…………………………………………..

Nothing.

Nada.

Total abstinence.

Go to a movie, do some laundry, call a friend, walk the dog.  Anything but think for a second about the fact that Memphis basketball just lost to Tulane. I’m serious about this – I will not waste more than 10 seconds if I can help it thinking about the fact that Memphis basketball just lost to Tulane. This isn’t difficult. I’m 37 now. I understand the broader picture – or at least enough of it to know that in the grand scheme of things, regardless of your personal religious affiliation or moral convictions, or beliefs about the universe – the outcome of a college basketball game just doesn’t register. So I move on, and spend my time doing other things. And how perfect is this? All that time I wasted re-watching games I already knew the outcome to? I’m now getting it back by moving on swiftly and without regret after a loss. Like it never happened. I’ll perk up just enough to know when the next game is (Thursday against SMU), and I’ll watch that one – but until then I’m free to completely ignore 92.9, The Commercial Appeal, Twitter, etc. A much needed respite.

One caveat: I always read Calkins.

Also, and here’s where some people may call me a bandwagon fan if they wish. When the team is bad, I’ll start skipping games – or taping / DVRing them to see if they win and then watching later only if they win. Now – keep in mind – due to the incredibly successful nature of the program, this tactic seldom gets utilized. In the last 30 years the Tigers have had just 3 losing seasons. Rare to be certain, but when the down years do come a little detachment is in order. For everyone’s well being.

There’s only problem with all this:

I decided to write a blog about basketball this year. In particular, Memphis basketball. So now I feel like I sorta have to write something. Not for the readership of bballjones.com, whom I appreciate. But for myself, because I kind of want to stick with this for a little while. So instead of writing some detailed breakdown of how the Tigers lost to Tulane, which you can get via Jason Smith if you really care, I wrote this. Whatever this is.

Now, as we do after each Tigers game, let’s hear from Philosophic Phil, Negative Nellie, and Realistic Ralph.  Please note that Philosophic Phil has replaced Positive Paul, who is now dead.

Philosophic Phil:

  • It’s great that the fans were treated to a spirited competitive game.
  • Tulane must feel so proud of their accomplishment.
  • Knowing and experiencing the agony of defeat makes the coming victory that much sweeter.

Negative Nellie:

  • The Tigers body of work is non existent.
  • Zero quality wins, and the potential bad (home) losses are piling up.
  • This means the Tigers are extremely far from NCAA tournament consideration.

Realistic Ralph:

  • Austin Nichols, 28 pts, 9 rbs, 4 blks. Wow. He’s clearly emerging.
  • Sure, Pookie coughed this one up – but he also had 9 assists – that doesn’t just happen by accident.
  • The Tigers were up 5 with under 4 minutes to go and just didn’t make that next play that might have sealed the game. It’s not as if they were out classed from the jump.
  • It is what it is. #IIWII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Grizzleaneous Thoughts (12/31/14)

1. Packed house at FedExForum on a cold, nasty Tuesday night for the Spurs.  Very impressive.

2. Even though everyone always said that Memphis would support a winner – I’m not sure I ever actually believed that the Grizzlies could put a legit 17k + in the stands on a frozen Tuesday night in December.  Memphis is, in fact, supporting a winner.

3. The Grizz are absolutely winners – as they controlled this one against the defending champs from start to finish.  Spurs cut it to 5, but it never seemed in doubt.

4. Mike Conley was just outstanding – hard to imagine he’s not an all-star.

5. Seemed as if Spurs head man Greg Popovich decided about halfway through the 2nd quarter that it wasn’t the Spurs night – or maybe he was afraid of arguing with the officials and getting ejected. Either way, it was weird seeing him totally withdrawn from the game in the 2nd half. He never really got out of his chair in the 2nd half.

6. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s not a bad seat in FedExForum. There aren’t alot of bad seats, but as it turns out, in section 112A, the seats against the large wall that divides the section from the terrace level seats – those are bad seats (especially if your neighbor is plus sized). My friend and I had those seats for this game and were quite disappointed.

7. We tried the “find better seats” strategy – which is simple:  (a) We spotted a few completely empty rows in Section C5, then (b) waited until halfway through the second quarter when all late arrivals typically have shown up, (c) walked over to said rows, past the lady checking tickets, like we owned the place, (d) sat down in empty rows, and (e) declared victory.

8. Again, these rows in C5, 2 of them, with 16 seats each, were COMPLETELY empty with about 8 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter. That’s 32 empty seats.

9. After my friend and I sat in the seats for about 5 minutes, approximately 32 people (but maybe as many as 100,000), mostly children, showed up together to claim their seats and we were confronted awkwardly by the usher who sent us back to 112A – against the wall – with a reprimand.

10. This was reminiscent of a time that @FlashGordonNY and myself were flying standby on a red eye flight from Las Vegas to Memphis and about 5 minutes before the conclusion of boarding there were 50 open seats.  We thought we had made it on standby. With about 2 minutes to go – a metaphorical clown car of about 50 (but maybe as many as 100,000) people ran to the gate, claiming our (their) spots and stranding us without a seat.

11. Was good to see Jarnell Stokes get some PT against – though he didn’t try to do too much. Knowing the kind of guy he is, and watching his demeanor, it’s easy to envision him being a contributor one day.

12. The Grizz offense was moving quickly – and Joerger mentioned in the postgame that playing quicker in the halfcourt continues to be a point of emphasis.

13. He (Joerger) insists that the quickened pace will help the Grizz in the long run. He’s probably right. Either way, it’s an aesthetically pleasing brand of basketball the Grizzlies are playing these days.

14. The Grizzlies now have 2 days off before a 2 game trip out west @LAL, @Den.  Then they return home to face the Knicks. A much gentler stretch than what they’ve just been through.

 

 

 

 

Interview with JT’s #wigsnatch Girl

JT

 

 

Raise your hand if you didn’t know what “WIGSNATCH” meant until Justin Timberlake’s Twitter brouhaha a few weeks ago.  Me neither. Now of course, #WIGSNATCH is kind of a Grizzlies thing. It’s not as big as ALL HEART, GRIT GRIND, but it was quickly a t-shirt – thanks to the scenester, trendy folks over at SACHE. Last May, Kyle Veazey at the Commercial Appeal did a nice piece chronicling the creative-trendy energy surrounding the Grizzlies.

 

A few weeks ago, Emily Childers (above, far right with the pink Grizzlies headband) got a pair of floor seats to the Grizzlies – and showed up with her “MIND YA GRIZZNESS / #WIGSNATCH” t-shirt on. Also, face paint. Also, head band. She then realized JT himself was sitting 5 seats down from her and….SELFIE!

 

Of the moment, Childers says simply, “It was history.”

 

Not a bad night at the Grindhouse (a nickname so creative and perfectly descriptive that it long ago went nation-wide) for the 26 year old bartender and lifelong Memphian.

 

We caught up with Childers before the Grizz v. Spurs on Tuesday night to try to understand the origins of her Grizz passion:

 

BBJONES:  Alright, tell me about the JT picture – how it came about…

Childers:  Me and (my friend) were joking on the way over about ‘what if we saw Justin Timberlake?’ – and we had on his #wigsnatch t-shirts that day, so we were like ‘it would be perfect.’ So we get courtside tickets that day. Justin Timberlake ended up sitting 5 seats to the right of us. I immediately looked at Justin Timberlake – I grabbed my friend’s arm and I go ‘let’s go – we’re getting a picture.’ And it was awesome.  And he looks like he’s having a better time in our selfie picture than me and my friend actually are. And it ended up being one of the best selfie pictures ever. And he was really nice about it. It was really short and sweet. I said, ‘JT can we please take a picture’ and he said ‘sure’ and that was it. It was history.

 

BBJONES:  Did you think about saying anything else to him, was your mind rehearsing what to say next and how that was going to go?

Childers:  Absolutely not, I just wanted the picture. Because I didn’t want to waste his time because I knew I wasn’t the only one taking a picture with him. And this is his team and he wants the whole experience and I didn’t want to take up any of his time.

 

BBJONES:  How long have you been this into the Grizzlies?

 

Childers:  I’ve always enjoyed the Grizzlies but during College I was too broke to go to games and didn’t have time. Then all last year I worked 5 nights a week as a bartender and so this year i finally have the money and the time to spend money and go to games. And i’m a native Memphian why wouldn’t I like the Grizzlies?

 

BBJONES:  When was your first Grizzlies game?

 

Childers:   I was in high school with my dear friend Adrian- I wasn’t wearing any Grizz gear. I don’t think i knew what was going on when it comes to how the game was played. But i remember having a really good time.

 

BBJONES:  What is it that you like about Basketball?

 

Childers:  Looking at really tall creature-humans…and the hype that the audience brings…and it’s the only sport that I honestly understand. I understand it.

 

BBJONES:  Is there one Grizzly player in particular that is your favorite and why?

 

Childers:  Vince Carter cause he’s a badass.  He’s 37 years old and still plays like he’s 20.  And if you look at his highlights of games – he plays like nobody else does.  He takes risks, he has fun. He plays around with the players and the opposing players and he’s just a damn good guy. I also really like, um, watching his free throws because he’s really, um, he’s actually really tight. and he only has a 3 inch vertical – and i think that’s hysterical because he’s a baller.

 

BBJONES:  Explain what you mean when you say you like watching his free throws because he’s tight.

 

Childers:  Um, he…his stance, first off, he never lifts his feet of the ground in free throws – which is unusual.  And he has a really good free throw record. And just his mannerisms and his gestures free throwing is totally his own and he rocks it.

 

BBJONES:  You dress up for games, what’s that about?

 

Childers:  The Grizzlies are really special to me because I don’t like hype surrounded by like dressing up.  LIke Halloween and New Year’s – I don’t like any of that stuff. I never enjoy dressing up.  However, putting on your Grizz gear and the face paint and cheering on your team and screaming for them and people looking at me and saying she’s (pause) a damn good looking fan (laughter) is a super fun experience. I don’t enjoy dressing up for anything besides Grizzlies games. And I have 3 hats, a pair of gloves, 4 shirts, a vest, and a sweatband. And #1 glitter stickers and blue face paint.

 

BBJONES:  What is it about the games that you love so much?

 

Childers:  They’re just super fun. and it’s super fun to just go with people. It’s always a good time. You don’t even have to drink to have a good time. It’s just the crowd, the energy and just watching our boys do the thing on the court is just one of the funnest activities that there is to do in the city of Memphis. Hands down.

 

BBJONES:  You have standards on seats, don’t you?

 

Childers:  Absolutely. The farthest i’ll ever go, the shittiest seats I’ll ever get is Terrace row A – and they’re still really good seats.

29 Grizzleaneous Thoughts (12/27/14)

Went to Grizz / Rockets tonight with @FlashGordonNY and @barsandkaps. Here are 29 observations / reflections about the experience:

 

  1. Grizz lost their 4th in a row, but – maybe because Zbo was out, or maybe because they’re still a very respectable 21-8 – it didn’t feel like a tragedy.
  2. Except to the grown man behind us in the jersey.  Definitely felt like a tragedy to him.
  3. The next 2 are @ Heat (tomorrow) and back at home vs. Spurs (Tuesday) – so there’s a real possibility the streak could get to 6.
  4. Still wouldn’t feel like a tragedy IMO. That’s the benefit of an 82 game season.
  5. Using “In the face” as a cheer / insult at an NBA game just feels right every time.
  6. Incredible overall atmosphere at FedExForum. The Grizz staff does such a good job with game presentation.
  7. Grizz games just feel so Memphis now, for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is the Grizz Grannies – who crushed it Friday night.
  8. Hard to imagine that an NBA arena can be any louder than FedExForum after the 2nd of Vince Carter’s late 3’s.
  9. Will “The Final Countdown” by Europe ever get old?
  10. No.
  11. Does “Welcome to the Jungle” make me want to wrestle my friends?
  12. Yes.
  13. Love watching Vince Carter play basketball.  He will be 38 in January – which makes him 5 months older than me.
  14. I played an hour of pickup basketball on Friday, and have been bitching about a jammed thumb ever since.
  15. It really hurts when I put weight on it.
  16. Carter, on the other hand, runs around with the best athletes in the world – most of whom are more than a decade younger than him – and still plays at a very high level.
  17. Can’t go to a Grizz game without remembering how much I love Chris Wallace.
  18. I have a theory that the Grizz are going to win the NBA title just because Chris Wallace exists as a human being.
  19. The halftime show, Duo Design, was impressively creepy.
  20. These dudes (Duo Design) show up with head to toe gold body paint and no clothes – except a pair of tiny gold panties (each).
  21. Their junk is on full display as they proceed to do about 10 minutes of yoga on top of each other.
  22. There’s probably a better way to describe what they do than ‘yoga on top of each other’ but maybe not.
  23. Was fun sitting behind the Rockets bench and watching Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale in action. I was first introduced to NBA basketball by my Grandfather in the mid 80’s – watching McHale’s Celtics play the Lakers in the finals. Dude is now 57, and let’s just say he doesn’t get around like he used to.
  24. In 1986-87 McHale averaged 26 & 9. His post moves were so deadly, McHale referred to them as his ‘torture chamber.’  In 2014, it looks like McHale is in a torture chamber when he has to walk 10 feet from the coaching huddle back to the regular huddle.
  25. McHale’s Wiki Page lists 3 notes for personal life.  (1) His wife. (2) His kids. (3) His 2 episodes appearing as himself on Cheers in Seasons 9 & 10.
  26. One of McHale’s Cheers episodes was titled, “Cheers Fouls Out,” the other, “Where Have All The Floorboards Gone?”
  27. @barsandkaps loves those episodes.
  28. For a guy who claims to be all about Memphis, was sort of surprised that @FlashGordonNY had never heard of the Bayou.
  29. Zydeco wings at Bayou did not disappoint. They never do.

Confessions of a Bandwagon Grizzlies Fan

Dear Grizzlies Franchise:

 

I need to come clean about some things.  I feel like our relationship has some definite potential right now, and accordingly I’d like to clear the air about some of the events that have transpired in the past. Before I get into all that, let me just say that (a) I watch or attend almost every playoff game, (b) I absolutely love Chris Wallace, and (c) I have a man crush on MIke Conley.

 

Nevertheless, I can’t escape the lurking notion that I’m a fraud – and the pressure and weight of some secrets has become difficult to tolerate. I feel in some ways the past has kept us stuck and so I’m hoping that after you read this, we’ll be able to move forward with a clean slate. See, the thing is, I’m kind of a bandwagon fan.  There, I said it.  Whew.  That felt good.  Wow, I really do feel better just owning it. Amazing.  I have a few more things to say – just in the way of explanation.  So here goes:

 

    1. I don’t watch every game.  Actually, I don’t watch most of the games,  and I flip around sometimes when I am watching.  LIke take today, for example.  I really did want to watch the Grizz – Cavs game.  After all, Lebron James vs. the Grizzlies is pretty epic.   But what happened was the Cowboys were on at the same time, and ya’ll were getting beat, and ya know….  I just flipped around some.  I feel terrible.  This actually happens a lot, especially if football or college basketball are on.  I want to want to watch all of every game.  I do love you guys a lot, but I mean….ya know…it’s just hard.  I’ll try to do better I promise.
    2. I gave up on Sidney Lowe almost immediately. I should have told you this a long time ago, because it’s been a while. This is really where our relationship first began to falter. I couldn’t even believe I gave up that quickly. Growing up in Memphis, I had longed for pro sports forever but I just wasn’t prepared for all that losing.  I was very much into you at first: I went to the first pre-season game, I watched the draft. I bought gear. I was genuinely pumped.  But the thing is, ya’ll really sucked – and the season was long – and it was so clear you weren’t going to be any good for a long time.  I went to some games and all, but I have to admit I stopped watching. In retrospect I can see that I was ashamed of myself for quitting. My disappointment in myself kept me away for a while. Please don’t be mad at me – I totally got behind Hubie Brown, who was freaking awesome by the way.
    3. I skipped the Marc Iavaroni era entirely.   According to Wikipedia, Iavaroni coached the team from 2007-2009. I missed that one completely. Please understand that during this time the Memphis Tigers were on the greatest run in program history and I lived outside of Memphis. That being said, I can’t sugarcoat this one – I was so checked out during this time period that ya’ll could have moved back to Vancouver and I might not have cared. Our relationship was really bad at this point and it was very much my fault.  But well, maybe not totally my fault – I mean,  I’m not trying to drag up the past but ya’ll did trade Kevin Love for OJ Mayo on draft night and draft Hasheem Thabeet and Donte Green. Sooooo let’s just say there was mutual fault in this situation and forget it.
    4. Because of my loyalty to the Memphis Tigers, I have resented you at times. I realize this is totally unreasonable and that on balance you’ve done way more to help the Memphis Tigers and move them forward than to hurt them in any way. But you have to understand something about timing. Shortly after you got here, my beloved Tigers were relegated to a version of Conference USA that was stripped of all their then-traditional rivals (Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette). John Calipari had yet to really get the program rolling, and even after he did there was always the fear that he would leave and the program would slip. So out of fear and envy I resented your fancy marketing materials and your slick game presentations and your corporate resources and your permanent signage at FedExForum. You may or may not know this, but as a Memphis Tiger fan, I come pre-programmed with an inferiority complex – so playing 2nd fiddle to an NBA team just isn’t easy. That being said, I think most Memphis Tiger fans have come fully around to embrace your presence and just sort of blindly choose to believe it’s going to work out well for both of us whether there’s any empirical evidence to back that up or not.
    5. I don’t like some of your fans. I grew up in Memphis before it was a pro-town. I grew up in Memphis before there was a “cool” team to like and all sorts of “cool” ways to show how “cool” you are because you like them. The town was more fragmented because the allegiances ran to various college teams. So I’m just not used to all this brotherhood, camaraderie and catch phrase mania. As a result, it feels kind of fake and trendy to me….at best it’s foreign. While I certainly get that people are genuinely excited about all the success you’ve had, as I am – I could really do without the 20 year old floozies tweeting #wigsnatch and #gritgrind and talking about how much they love the Grizzlies because Marc is cute.  (Though I have to admit he’s a very good looking man.) I can’t escape the feeling that if you asked the same “fans” what a pick and roll is they’d probably tell you it’s a menu item at one of the trendy new restaurants in Overton Square.

 

There may be some other things that I remember in time – but these are the big ones. Feels good to come clean, really does.  Please know that I’ve been there from the beginning.  I went to an open practice in 2001 at the Pyramid and remember finding it surreal that one of my favorite former Orlando Magic players, Nick Anderson, was wearing a Memphis jersey (you didn’t think I remembered did you?).  I was stoked when Jerry West was hired, even watched the press conference on live TV.   I attended the press conference when you revealed the current uniform and logo.  I once trespassed into FedExForum while it was still being built on New Year’s eve 2004 to check out the progress of construction.   I’d like to think my Grizz fan resume is pretty decent.


In conclusion, please forgive my weakness and disloyalty- and let’s move forward together in a renewed spirit of partnership.

#gritgrind

#wigsnatch

#grizznation