I'm not one to spend too much time focused on the future or start wishing away the present, but for my sanity and mental health, please, hurry, October. It seems as if everyone is begging for Fall to return, and each person has their reasons unique to themselves. White girls across the country are "literally" dying to break out their Ugg boots and start guzzling down pumpkin spiced anything. Retail stores are simply ready to begin taking your money as the cold weather and holiday seasons approach. Me? My autumn desires are all one hundred percent sports related.
As the New York Giants continue to find creative new ways to lose football games (I hate sports), and the Atlanta Braves suffer yet another remarkable late season collapse (God, I hate sports), and my ridiculously fun points system in Fantasy Football comes back to bite me (seriously, fornicate yourself with a metal stick, sports), I find myself even more anxious for the tip-off of the NBA season and the return of Memphis Grizzlies' basketball.
And it's not just because my other teams are really, truly, comically bad. I just miss the lovable band of merry men who play basketball for my city. I miss the camaraderie of the 901 when the Grizzlies' season is in full swing. I miss ugly offense, Whoop! There it Is, and everything that comes along with watching games at the Grindhouse.
And it's not as if the Grizzlies are perfect. There are quite a few questions and concerns surrounding this Memphis team, and no one is certain just how good this team can or will be.
America loves fads. I'm looking at you, people who posted planking pictures, anyone going gluten-free, guys who wear dropped crotch pants, and any and everyone that thinks they were nominated for Al's Ice Bucket Challenge. The thing about fads is, eventually, they all run their course. (Clock's ticking, Chaco wearers!) And that's kind of how I think people outside of Memphis view the Grizzlies.
A couple of years ago, basketball in Memphis was really starting to take off, and the national pundits were telling everyone to buy stock in the Grizzlies. Now? It seems as though everyone who's paid to talk about and analyze basketball looks at the Grizzlies as an afterthought in the infinity gauntlet that is the Western Conference. So just how good are the Grizzlies? Did they miss their best chance at a title, or is the window still open?
Here's what we know. The Grizzlies still have their core four of Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol. While Randolph and Allen have aged and lost a step or two, Conley and Gasol are hitting their primes. Conley made a significant leap last year, and at only 27 when the season starts, he could still find yet another level in his game. Marc Gasol has legitimate muscle definition for the first time in his life, and he is one of the best defensive generals in the game today. On a nightly basis, these four men can hold their own with any team in the NBA. Outside of those guys is where the questions really start to arise.
From the head coach to the back up point guard, to the age old question of "What's Tayshaun doing here?" there are enough uncertainties to leave Grizzlies fans feeling uneasy about the upcoming season. To their credit, the Grizzlies attempted to answer many of these questions this offseason.
Between a (hopefully) healthy Quincy Pondexter, an (hopefully) emerging Jordan Adams, and the steady presence of Vince Carter, Memphis finally looks to have a consist threat of outside shooting to compliment its two talented big men. Gasol is healthy, and finally playing without an inner tube around his belly, meaning the vaunted Grizzlies defense should return to being one of the toughest in the league. Combine that with Dave Joerger having a full season under his belt and a better understanding of his team and offensive rotations, and the present and future certainly look bright in Memphis. There remain a fair amount of "Ifs" surrounding this team, but it certainly looks as if this is a team that will be playing meaningful basketball deep into April and May.
Of course, as we learned last year, good feelings and gut instincts mean nothing when they start playing the games. Until the ball drops and the players take the court, we really won't know exactly how good this Grizzlies team can be. But what I do know is this: I'm ready to find out.
I'm ready to hear Rick Trotter's voice echo throughout the arena. Ready for the first time Tony Allen flexes on the sidelines and then takes off running for no reason. I'm ready to grab a Jet's Pizza, a souvenir Mt. Dew, kick back in my seat, loosen up my tie, and scream and shout like a small child. I'm ready to go. So again, I say this to you: Hurry, October.
Sports have made us tired and weary. We long for a day when we can awake to talking about fast breaks and memorable victories, rather than hearing about the latest NFL scandal. We are desperate for a chilly walk down Beale Street towards a sold out FedEx Forum. This may not be our season. We may again find ourselves lamenting over a painful playoff loss to a familiar and hated rival. Even so, come quickly. Return to us with great swiftness, basketball season. Hurry, October.