Saturday, May 4, 2013

memphis grizzlies, for the love of a city.

being a memphis grizzlies fan used to be a tougher job.
when i was in high school (age 15), my mom took me to my first home game.
...and so began my love affair with the grizzlies and pau gasol...
i know, i know.

playoffs weren't part of the discussion back then,
and achieving a .500 season would become a headline story.
the arena was always half-empty,
matching the enthusiasm of the city for its infant team.

rumors would swirl about whether the team would stay or go.
players and coaches were in and out.
until, suddenly, things started to jive for our beloved grizzlies.

that being said, being a better team means that there is a greater emotional investment.
some playoff games and series have ended in emotional agony.
with rivalries running rampant and physicality amped up to a million,
the fans have hoisted the team on its shoulders as if to protect it from those jeering from below. 

"i love the city during the playoffs", i said to a lady standing in line with me
on wednesday to purchase grizzlies gear from the mobile truck.
"it amazes me how basketball has always brought this city together," she replied.
memphians have always been prideful, 
but basketball weaves a thicker thread among all of us.

i don't know if it is like this with other franchises, 
but our team seems to represent our city in its personality.
the team, like our city, has to work harder than everyone else to achieve the same credit.
or any at all. 
you don't know until you take the time to look around
that some magical things are happening here.

i have no idea how far we will go in the playoffs this season,
but the therapy that a winning team provides this city is the best medicine for which we could ever ask. 
i stood, game 6, club level, mid-court, alongside strangers who felt like family.
maybe memphis is the perennial underdog - the team and the city -
always out with something to prove.

they call us a blue-collar team. the grit & grind. 
that means that we realize wins are not something to which we are entitled
by virtue of being a large market.
 it means we earn our keep through hard work and determination. 
you often hear the calming advice from others that "it's just a game."
but here, it is so much more than that. 
each win is like a sweet catharsis responding to each time the city has been disparaged. 
there is nothing wrong with wanting the rest of the world to
recognize what i have known my whole life -
it is a blessing to call memphis my home...
and the grizzlies, my home team.

grind forth. 

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