A week or so ago I responded to a tweet from GBB Senior Writer Joe Mullinax that read:
Maybe I am just strange/showing I am not originally from Memphis, but I don't get the Tony Allen unconditional love. #surelyunpopularopinion— Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax) May 22, 2014
Enter sweet irony.
I told Joe that the city appreciates Tony Allen because if you meet or hang around the man it really seems like he's from Memphis, even though he's not. The same can be said for Zach Randolph, a guy who identifies so well with the city that he's decided he'll never leave. It's not just the fact that they can ball out. It's in their language, their tone, their mentality and their appreciation for something that takes "real" to the next level. They "get it" - it being the conundrum that is living in Memphis, TN.
As a lifelong Memphian, there's something different about a lovable personality coming to my home town and taking it up as their own. It feels good, real damn good. It's a swelling with pride for a place that tries its damnedest to keep its head above sea level, and every now and then it treads enough water to look around and see that there are some pretty amazing aspects to the culture and population of Memphis.
That, my friends, is just one of the reasons I have a deep appreciation for my bud Joe Mullinax, a Virginian transplant who came to Hoop City as a visitor and now returns back to his original hometown as a grizzled Memphian who bleeds Grizzly bear blue.
It's a bittersweet day. We're losing one hell of a citizen, but our loss is couple with Joe's opportunity to go back to Virginia to live out one of his lifelong dreams of coaching football for his old high school. I rest assured that Mulli is taking back some pretty stellar memories and that those memories draw him back here from time to time.
As I begin to finish up my first year running Grizzly Bear Blues, I'd like to personally thank Joe for all the hard work he's put into the site and for being a liaison to so many of our ventures this season. You've grown incredibly as a writer and I couldn't be more proud to have someone working with me. The ride wouldn't have been the same without you brother, and I believe there's only greater things ahead for us and the site as a whole.
Fortunately for me, the editor, and for you, the audience, the wonder of the Internet will keep Joe only a keyboard's length away from us. He'll remotely be operating the GBBLive podcast, churning out those Armchair GM pieces (along with all his other grizness) and undoubtedly setting Twitter aflame on a regular basis.
But the city of Memphis itself will miss you my man. You're a wonderfully kind person, a gentleman and scholar who is always trying to better himself and bring a light of happiness to those around you. You're a special guy who's loaded with talent and contagious passion. We can't have enough of that here, or hell, anywhere in the world.
But the great thing about Memphis is that it's more than a geographical location. Memphis, so to speak, is a mentality, one that transcends our location for those diligent enough to dig around and find the pieces that comprise it. It's not an easy treasure to unearth; it's not for everyone.
That's why we love the Grizzlies, and that's why we love Joe Mullinax.
Grit and Grind, my brother, no matter how far you ever are from your honorary home town.