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Looking for a team to root for? How about the Grizzlies!

by Photo of Robert Jerzy

How Memphis defines the term TEAM in a pure way.

Looking for a team to root for? How about the Grizzlies!

In this article…

Success stories in basketball rarely happen out of the blue. The destined path, a winning team goes, often begins to loom several seasons in advance. The Memphis Grizzlies re-wrote this blue print last year by surprisingly shocking the San Antonio Spurs in the 1st Round of the playoffs. Then they gave the Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle in Round 2.

It was team basketball, passion, and camaraderie that made us fans put the Grizzlies on the basketball map for the first time since ... well, ever. 

Having its roots in Vancouver, the franchise has been a frequent candidate for the Draft Lottery while making the news tabloids with their controversial trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers several years back, becoming merely a laughing stock and example of bad management decisions. Giving away their only star and simultaneously drafting the wrong players seemed to be the right classification for a team that battles in one of the toughest divisions in the NBA.

And while everybody thought that the demotion of former lottery pick/star-in-the-making, O.J. Mayo, the trade for troublemaker Zach Randolph, and the bulky contract extension for Rudy Gay marked the low point of a never successful franchise, Memphis turned things around and started to win games.

If you are looking for a feel good story in the NBA, this team might be your top pick. Improbably, the collection of difficult players formed a unity. Improbably, the Gasol trade became a win-win situation as the younger brother Marc (involved in the trade) suddenly became one of the best centers in the league. Improbably, players like Tony Allen and Mike Conley blossomed in the same back court.

The Grizzlies however are more than just a team that inherits former outlaws, strange characters, and players previously stamped as “less-talented”. Memphis seems to be a place, athletes want to be. 

Tony Allen came over from Boston and reshaped their culture of defense. O.J. Mayo never requested a trade despite being transformed into a bench player. Their starters Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and lately Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol remained committed to the franchise long term. This club culture even welcomes troubled players like Gilbert Arenas to find a way back on the floor. 

All of a sudden, this underachieving club developed a winning culture that enables its players to overcome the latest collapse in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Clippers.  Up 24 points with just over nine minutes remaining, the Grizzlies suddenly went cold. The Clippers suddenly found their stride, and reeled off a 28-3 to stun Memphis. A meltdown like that is hard to overcome at any stage of the series, no less the first game. But this Memphis team is resilient.  Even when Los Angeles got out to a strong start in last night's game, Memphis kept fighting back and ended up winning Game 2 in convincing fashion.

The Memphis Grizzlies are no sleeper anymore, thanks to their turnaround which began over a year ago. The Grizzlies however are a team that proves it can retain the quality of basketball and unity on the court through any diversion like injuries or changes of its players’ roles. Six months ago, no one would have agreed on a contract extension for Mike Conley or even Zach Randolph. But the success proved Memphis right. They are a true feel good story that may reach higher levels this year.

Ed. Note: Plus, just look at how excited this fan is. How can you not pull for the Grizzlies purely because of this kid?

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the Grizzlies and Clippers during their first round series.

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