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A Grizzly Pep Talk: Team 14's Last Stand

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Coach Mullinax returns to Grizzly Bear Blues to deliver what would be his pre-game speech as a win or go home Game Six approaches.

Team 14 is nearing its end. If Coach Mullinax and Marc Gasol have their way, it won't be tonight.
Team 14 is nearing its end. If Coach Mullinax and Marc Gasol have their way, it won't be tonight.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Bring it in, men.

First, before I begin, I want to tell you all how proud I am of...Tony, care to join us?

(Tony Allen, head bobbing to Future while watching film on his tablet, pulls out his ear buds and joins the team)

Thanks, TA.

Again, I want to first tell each of you how proud I am of the effort you are showing in this series for the most part. We knew going in they were more talented than we are; it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to try to overcome that gap and do it consistently. We showed the capacity to do it in Games Two and Three, and hopefully though the adjustments we have made the past 36 hours we will be able to do it again.

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Hours from now, this building will be dressed head to toe is the best kind of chaos, a festival for the senses, 18,119 people who have had their belief shaken but are still standing by us as they have throughout the years. Some of you have been around long enough to remember the times where the stands were not quite as full, where the passion and care was simply not there. Win or lose, people did not give a damn. Now they do, and win or lose that is a victory in the community sense in and of itself.

But of course it isn't enough. We want more.

When I was in college, my Head Coach would talk about each team by number. For example, there was a season where we were Team 120. He was referencing the number of teams that had played the sport at the school. In our case, all Yellow Jackets, but each team vastly different from the others. Different personnel, different coaches, different schedules and priorities and problems. Each team has its own identity and life according to my coach, and that is not cherished/fully understood enough.

Why should it be appreciated more? The major separation of teams from 1 to 2 or 120 to 121 is that that team, as it was constructed, will never, ever, be repeated. It is for one year, frozen in time, one opportunity to make the most of combined talents of the collective and work toward the greater goal. Players would transfer, players would graduate. That group would never play together again. It made the impending end, and the urgency to compete the best we could in the time we had together, that much more real.

Team 14's time together, win or lose tonight, is coming to and end.

For us, the Memphis Grizzlies, this is Team 14. Team 13 the year before? Some carry over roster wise, but a completely different team overall from Team 14 now. Same with Team 12, Team 11, and so on. This year's team has had its share of success and failure, sunny times and dark days. Adversity has marred the season, as has opportunity. This season is not different in that way. The major difference between them all? The people. Core players and some coaches may remain, but no team has been exactly the same from year to year.

Win or lose tonight, we are approaching the end of Team 14. Team 15 is already being planned as we speak, but we are in the midst of the most trying time of our season. Some of you will be back next season, but some of you will not. Some will leave via free agency, some may be traded, others may decide to retire. Team 15 will be different from Team 14. This season is the first and only time this group will be together. Tonight could be the last time you all ever play on the same floor at the same time with one another.

Makes it real, doesn't it?

This is not a time to be sad and reflect. Not yet. This is a time to feel that sense of urgency. Yes, we're professionals doing a job, but we spend more time together during the season than we do with our families at times. Sports have the unique ability to bring people together from all walks of life under a common goal or belief...belief, something we are very familiar with here in Memphis. Team 14 is a family; a dysfunctional one, but one none the less. And you fight your ass off for family.

So, if we are to get out of this darkness and back in to the light, we must fight together, Team 14, one more time. These Warriors are good...damn good, great even. But Team 14 has beaten these Warriors three times this season, twice this series, and has show the ability to be great as well. We must play to our strengths. Play defense with an intensity, tenacity and enthusiasm never before seen. Attack the paint. Make it ours. Move the ball, play off of backdoor screens, create for each other, put the collective good above that of yourself and sacrifice what you must to make sure that this night is not the final night of Team 14. Some have already done it multiple times. Do it again.

The game plan is in place. The scheme is sound, we do what we do. It is up to you to make sure there is a tomorrow. It is in your hands to ensure that we get on a plane Saturday to go to California with one more chance to shock the world. I am not ready to say goodbye to Team 14 yet. We have more work to do. But we have to be all in, for yourselves, your families and for Team 14.

I'm proud of you and proud to be your coach. I am thankful for what each of you have brought to Team 14. Tonight, win or lose, I love this team and each one of you. Our relationship will go beyond Team 14 and I will always do my best to help you in whatever way I can. But we aren't done yet. Fight your ass off, play your game, and I'll see you at tape & treatment tomorrow.

I'm ready for what lies ahead of us. The task is great, but so is our belief in ourselves and each other, in Team 14. The glory on the other end of history will be that much sweeter for what we went through together to achieve it.

It's time to go to work. All In on three...

1, 2, 3-


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