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Success or Failure? Going Retro-Spectral on the Memphis Grizzlies 2015 Season

How I think you should digest the 2014-15 season and where GBB will be headed this summer!

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Late May: I'm coming to terms on how to make peace with you.

Last week on GBBLive I talked about the juxtaposition of this time of year as a Memphis Grizzlies' basketball fan. You look around the city of Memphis, and life is teeming everywhere. I've got vines growing in my yard that can seemingly shoot up and wrap around fences overnight. The mockingbirds are in full-crooning-mode, boisterously cycling through their dozens of calls in attempts to find that special somebird and make little bird babies. Heck, even my own family is in on it: I've got a beautiful two-week-old niece who's getting her first sweet breaths of Springtime in Memphis. It's inspiring to see the world renewed once again.

But amidst all this prosperity, we still watch our Memphis Grizzlies start to head towards hibernation.

You felt the collective shoulder-slump start before the final minute even ran off the clock. You saw the anguish on Marc Gasol's face as he stood in FedexForum and began to absorb the waining moments of the 2015 season. The Growl Towels trickled out. The decibels fell. The custodial crew eventually made their way into the stands to clean up the mess of paper and crumbs that was just hours removed from being in the passionate clutches of the Memphis fervor: a half-eaten Mac & Cheese cone, a rolled up program that's crinkled from anxious, wringing hands, and maybe even that Draymond Green "Mouth Breather" sign that someone worked so hard on. These are some of the casualties of our side of the war.

But lot of the actual Grizzlies' players came away from last Friday night feeling very similar to the refuse of our journey. They looked dejected and crestfallen. They described the season as a failure based on the expectations that were set last summer, and perhaps some expectations that were created during the season itself. And as much as I respect them for being the first the "own up" to the disappointment we're all feeling, I have to say that boiling down 82 games and 8 months to that single, shallow descriptor is ridiculous.

We, humans -- media, are obsessed with labeling things. We love to think know what everything is. We use one of two bathrooms. We elect one of two political parties. Even at a very young age, we're taught to see colors and describe them concretely: this is red, this blue, this is green. But life is rarely that accommodating in natural settings. Life is in the complicated answers. Life is in the teals, the oranges, the violets. The spectrum of our world is some of the truest beauty to which we have access. And dumbing it all down to a "1" or a "0" might help us communicate, but it largely does a disservice to our time here.

And to someone who loves the Memphis Grizzlies as much as I do, the disservice to the season of basketball we just observed is mildly offensive. It would be just as offensive if we were to blanket the entire experience as a success, too. I can't look at the Grizzlies inability to hit shots from the perimeter and use the word "success" the same way I can't look at the Grizzlies overcoming a 26-pt deficit and winning with a spectacular play as a "failure." These moments and attributes are all apart of the same body of work. Some make me swell with pride. Some make me shake my fist at the sky. They're all important to the experience, however, and trying to flash-pasteurize them and bottle up the journey isn't really doing it justice.

Did the Grizzlies fail to win the NBA Championship? Yes.

Did the Grizzlies succeed in captivating their fans? Yes.

Those are just two of hundreds of questions that could be answered about the Grizzlies 2015 season. They don't tell the whole story, and they certainly aren't the only things I remember.

  • I'll also remember Marc profusely cussing out of pure joy in the locker room after big wins.
  • I'll remember all the priceless reactions from Vince Carter.
  • I'll remember Mike Conley's array of injuries, and him playing despite them.
  • I'll remember a baker's dozen of Tony Allen moments that made me question whether or not I was on drugs.
  • I'll remember Courtney Lee not taking as many shots as I would have hoped for.
  • I'll remember my disappointment in realizing Jon Leuer was not going to be any good this year.
  • I'll remember the sweet lady who runs the media seating section.
  • I'll remember Dave Joerger saying "errrbody have a good night."
  • I'll remember all the moments I wished I could have seen Jordan Adams.
  • I'll remember Jeff Green Statue of Liberty-ing people.
  • I'll remember other Jeff Green things.
  • I'll remember the great conversations with really interesting people I've had on Twitter.
  • I'll remember the kooks on Facebook telling me that Russ Smith should start over Mike Conley.
  • I'll remember Iwo Jima vet Jimmy Keep making me tear up as he professes his respect for Z-Bo.

I'll remember so much from this season, whether or not it's labeled a success or a failure.

So as you start to wrap up this season in your mind, just remember that it's not really as simple as a pass or fail grade. It's complicated, beautifully complicated. And we've got a lot of writers here at GBB that will help me and you sort through all of those feelings in the coming weeks. Which leads me to ...

Grizzly Bear Blues 2015 Off-Season Schedule

This week:

  • We'll be starting our player/team reviews this week. I'll post around one-per-day and that will likely finish up during the first week of June.
  • Season Highs/Season lows: we'll sift through some of the big moments of the year ... on both sides of the spectrum.
  • NBA Lottery: May 19th!
  • GBB Mock Draft 3.0: Chip and Jonah will drop the latest edition as we ramp up towards the draft!
  • Final GBBLive podcast of the season: Joe Mullinax will host our final episode of the month before we take a break until June 18th.

Next week:

  • Player reviews will still be continuing, but we'll start turning our focus towards the 2015 NBA Draft and begin profiling players who the Grizzlies might be looking to target. We'll probably also be talking about players the Grizzlies won't target just because we love the NBA Draft here at GBB. Fresh energy, new hopes ... it's great.


  • GBB will be covering the NBA Draft workouts run by the Grizzlies again this season, and SPOILER: we might even have a representative at the actual NBA Draft in New York on June 25th!
  • As we roll through June with the Draft, we'll also start heating up the NBA Free Agency talk. Free agency begins on July 1st this year, and it's going to be an interesting one .... in case you haven't heard, there's this Marc Gasol guy who's name might pop up once or twice.
  • Later in July we'll also have Grizzlies Summer League! It should be really fun this year with plenty of young guns on the Grizzlies roster: Jordan Adams, Jarnell Stokes, Russ Smith, JaMychal Green, Ed Davis, Jon Leuer, Quincy Pondexter, Jeff Green....


And there's still ALLLLLLLL the other stuff that'll be going on outside of basketball. Pictures of people fishing, vacationing, bowling, skydiving, shuffleboarding and all the fun activities that people who aren't lazy bloggers do during the summer.

But enough about me, what do you all want to see on the blog this summer? Last year we did a GBB Community Mock Draft that was a whole lot of fun. I'd love to revive that one and possibly do some other fun fantasy drafts, too!

Hit up the comments with some ideas for the off-season!