Recently I was going through some old Google Drive files and found this piece from February 2013 where I wrote about Rudy Gay, Tayshaun Prince, and the 2013 Memphis Grizzlies. I’m sure this piece is floating around on the internet somewhere, but I hadn’t read it in years. Reading back over something like this with the perspective of 6 years and all of those wins and losses (okay, there have been a lot of losses) was far more interesting to me than I figured it would be. For one, how did I ever type out the words “I have faith in Austin Daye and Ed Davis, but…” I did?! WHY?! It’s fascinating how time makes us remember things differently, even our own opinions.
The end of this little piece is hopeful, and when I typed the words “I honestly feel like we have the right combination to go farther than we ever have before.” I had no idea that this WAS going to be the one and only season (thus far) that the Memphis Grizzlies made it to the Western Conference Finals. This piece isn’t anything special, but reading back over it did remind me of the fan I was 6 years ago. So much has changed with this team, and with me personally since 2013. But I would like to think that one thing remains the same, and that is the heart of this Memphis Grizzlies fan. This girl believed, Memphis. And one day, I hope we all will believe again.
February 2, 2013 - 4:22 a.m.
“We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.” - John Wooden
I am not a girl who likes change. In fact, change usually gives me anxiety. There is something about the unknown that scares the hell out of me. There is a safety and comfort in things staying the same. Even if it’s something that you aren’t happy with, at least you can prepare yourself for the disappointment, right? That’s why it was a very foreign feeling for me when I was excited about the Rudy Gay trade. Yes, you read that right. I was excited. I know this will make some Grizz fans hate me, but I feel like I need to make a confession. I am not a Rudy Gay fan. At least not in the last year. Actually, I can pinpoint the exact date. It was January 30, 2012. The Grizzlies played the Spurs at the FedExForum. Rudy Gay had one of the worst games of his NBA career. But that wasn’t why he lost my heart. It was his behavior. He showed no passion, no drive, and towards the end of the game, he tried to get thrown out of the game. Something changed for me that night. I understand that every player at some point in time has a bad game. In a long career, it’s inevitable. However, from where I was sitting, it seemed like he didn’t care at all. I zipped up my jacket at the end of that game, disappointed in the lack of character I saw. Grant it, there are plenty of arguments you could make against my experience and some would be valid. Obviously this is just my personal take on a player. Other fans have much more positive feelings towards him. I can honestly say I wanted to like Rudy Gay, but I never felt he fully embraced Memphis. Between that and noticing his stat sheet hadn’t changed much since 2006, I kind of lost faith in him. That being said, it is still very odd to lose a player you have become accustomed to seeing night after night for almost 7 years. And in a weird coincidence it was exactly a year to the date after my Rudy Gay fan divorce, that he was traded to the Toronto Raptors.
When I heard that Tayshaun Prince was part of the trade deal, I was excited. I have faith in Austin Daye and Ed Davis, but I knew Prince had a championship ring. My brother texted me after finding out that Prince was coming to Memphis that he was “definitely a grit and grind player”. I knew this was a veteran we had on our hands. Someone who has won, and knows what it takes to get there. Tayshaun Prince was known in Detroit as an outspoken player. In 2011, in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Detroit Pistons coach decided not to play RIchard Hamilton. The media questioned Hamilton after the game and Prince spoke up and was quoted as saying the choice was "Buffoonery. Do you all know what that means?" I think it is safe to say that Tayshaun Prince is not afraid to tell you what he is thinking. I look forward to the post game interviews with him. As far as his game play, I was impressed with his first game in Memphis. I am confident he will only get better. I think the new environment will only be more of a motivation for him to show he still has plenty to offer a team. I think he is going to end up being much more of a factor than most fans are expecting. Sometimes there is a tendency to dismiss an NBA player once he hits his thirties as not having much left. I would argue that very often, it is the players that have been around for a several years that become the backbone of the team. They tend to have the maturity and the leadership that is needed to push their team to the next level.
The Memphis Grizzlies have three players in the 30+ club: Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince. We also have several players in their early to mid twenties. As the current roster stands, I don’t think we have any horrible players. Whether it’s talent, git and grind, or both, I honestly feel like we have the right combination to go farther than we ever have before. I feel like we have a group of guys that all want to win, and they are realizing you have to trust your teammates to get there. This is a team of team players. I can’t promise a championship, but I can say that I am confident in this squad. If our front office and our coach can work together, who knows what we can accomplish! If you are a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies, or any small market team, you realize that in a sense, you have to believe the impossible. In a world of superstar teams and big spenders, it can be tough to really believe you have a shot at the title. But if we were fans of little faith, we would have chosen a far easier route as an NBA fan. We would be Miami Heat fans or LA Laker fans. Personally, there is a special feeling when you are the underdog. No matter what happens, there is adrenaline in knowing you could shock the critics. And that would be a change I would gladly welcome. I don’t pretend to be a sports analyst or a professional writer that expects respect for my thoughts. I am just a fan. And honestly for me, that’s the most satisfying thing to be. Because I’m allowed to believe in the impossible. I am allowed to be overly emotional and overly optimistic. So I think like me, most Grizzlies fans can probably identify with last lines of a classic poem by Robert Frost:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
My ego wants to be right about this trade. My heart wants to see my team go farther than ever before. But ultimately it’s my passion that keeps me dedicated to my team, no matter the outcome. So I choose to be the eternal optimist, even when it’s not the popular choice. All heart, grit and grind until the end.
Thank you so much for reading! Your support means a lot to me.