Bring it in, fellas.
You know what this is (holds up a DVD)? This is a highlight reel of the past three seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies. All the Grit, all the Grind, the wins and the series advances. All the ladders and towels and Clipper flops. Every bit of it, captured for us to re-live over and over again. A beautiful memory.
(Throws the DVD in the trash)
All that is a reminder of what you were, where you were. It's a moment in time, a lesson in Grizzlies history. Maybe it makes you feel better about yourself, maybe it got you a fat new contract and helped you support your family. Maybe you think that because of what is on that DVD from years ago you are entitled to something. That is all well and good.
You know what that DVD doesn't do? Win damn basketball games.
Somewhere along the way men, we lost sight of what wins damn basketball games. We have no idea who we are anymore. We're slow on rotations, we don't communicate consistently, we're not getting back on defense and our footwork has been piss poor. Offensively, we try so hard to make the right play that we miss out on the opportunities right in front of our faces. We're too cute, not nearly aggressive enough.
You guys know what this is (holds up a Growl Towel)? This is the calling card of an entire fan base. A symbol of hope, a physical manifestation of a belief in a connection between a town and a team, a middle finger to everyone and everything that has ever tried to bring down this city. No one else has to "Believe Memphis", this fan base does, and that is all that matters.
(Sets the Growl Towel on fire)
All that is is a mirage. An illusion. A dream of a moment in time where you all fought your asses off. The team that those people supported? I haven't seen them in a while. At a time when it is needed the most! Where's the fire? Where's the tenacity? Where's the Z-Bo skip after whipping Blake Griffin, where is the Tony Allen flex? You're so busy complaining about playing time and having your feelings hurt that you all are forgetting who you are.
You used to be the freaking Memphis Grizzlies. The team who people are TERRIFIED to play. The monsters under the bed, the animals that will make sure that you feel them the next day, win or lose. You were the group of guys that took pleasure in punking out other teams and players, now you're the ones getting punked! You're the ones who look mentally weak, like the ones who are willing to fade into the off-season as your window closes, willingly being put out to pasture.
The beauty of all of this, guys? It's fixable. We can climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. We're still in a place where we can control our own fate. Win out, and we're in. That means the playoffs start now. Tonight, against the Heat. It continues with Philly, with the Lakers. It sure as hell carries into Phoenix and Dallas. A tall task to be sure, and the team that has shown up the past 6 or so games can't get it done.
We can't rely on the teams of the past to do it either. Those teams are gone. The ones on the highlight DVD, the ones the fans held up Growl Towels for. This is a new year, and history wins you nothing. It is up to the people in this locker room to make the difference. The outside world, the front office, your families can't help us. It's on us to increase the tenacity and energy. It's on us to stand up after being knocked down. It's on us to execute scheme, to play through and for each other. These fans crave our success, they eat, sleep and breathe it. They can't do it for us though.
They can't "Believe Memphis" until we do again.
So, you have a choice. You can keep getting your asses kicked, keep whining and feeling sorry for yourselves. Book a vacation, play some golf, look forward to having Dougie McBuckets in town after watching a bunch of ping pong balls. Or, you can fight. You can scratch. You can claw, and Grit, and Grind, playing the way you know how to play and win. Get to the dance, and make the most damn noise you possibly can. You can make your own chapter in Grizzlies history. The choice is yours, men: lay down or Believe.
What's it gonna be?