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Schadenfreude: My Worst Day As a Grizzlies Fan

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The Grizzlies blow a 27 point lead to the Clippers in Game One of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. It was misery. Let's relive it.

Too soon? It may still be too soon...
Too soon? It may still be too soon...
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Lisa: Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is???

Homer: (sarcastically) No I don’t what "shaden-frawde" is. Please tell me, I’m dying to know

Lisa: It’s a German term for shameful joy, taking pleasure in the suffering of others

Homer: Oh come on Lisa. I’m just glad to see him fall flat on his butt. He’s usually all happy and comfortable and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel…What’s the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?

Lisa: Sour Grapes

Homer: Boy, those Germans have a word for everything.

- The Simpsons, "When Flanders Failed," originally aired October 3rd, 1991

***

Mrs Matty B: (Upon finding me standing in the kitchen) What are you doing, honey???

Me: Nothing (sigh)

- Conversation between my wife and I, April 28th, 2012 around 2 AM)

***

April 27th, 2012. The Grizzlies were hosting their first playoff series as the higher seed.  FedEx Forum was on and poppin’. And it was electric. I watched the game from my house that Sunday night. The crowd was hyped. This felt important.  No longer the underdog story, people had to respect the Grizzlies coming out of the gate instead of slowly gaining notoriety.

They were hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. These were days in which there was not as much hate. We all knew Blake Griffin was kinda soft, that DeAndre Jordan couldn’t walk and chew gum or play basketball at the same time, and that Chris Paul was kind of a jerk. But this would be amplified in the coming days.

The game could not have started any better. Grizzlies held the Clippers to 16 points while they shot sixty-four percent from the field to take an impressive 18 point lead into the second quarter. Both teams played pretty close for the second and third quarters, but the Grizzlies were in full control going into the fourth quarter.

And that’s where the schadenfreude begins…

***

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

- Nine Inch Nails "Hurt"

***

- The quarter begins with the Grizzlies leading 85-64. The Grizzlies have Agent X Gilbert Arenas, OJ Mayo (sigh), Rudy Gay (grumble), Dante Cunningham, and Mo Speights (My schoo' flew planes). The Clippers have Mo Williams, certified Grizz killer Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Reggie Evans, and Kenyon Martin. Just twelve minutes until the Grizzlies go up 1-0 on their way to sweeping the Clips…or so it seemed.

- (11:37) Rudy Gay hits a shot and a technical free throw to make it 88-64. I am actually going to compliment Rudy for a moment. He has played pretty well offensively up to this point, with 14 points through three quarters. His defense leaves something to be desired, as one handed Caron Butler leads the Clippers with 12 points. Mo Williams picks up the typical "we-are-getting-blown-out-so-if-I-get-a-tech-here-and-one-later-I-can-get-a-shower-early" technical foul.

- (11:28) Mo Williams makes it back with a three to make it 88-67

- (10:31) Arenas hits a layup to make it 90-67. Remember being excited about Agent X?? Really?? You don’t…maybe I wasn’t either. I’ll show myself out…

- (9:58) Nick Young steals from OJ Mayo and Blake Griffin finishes with a spinning layup over Quincy Pondexter (who ends up on his butt) to make it 90-69. There has been some conjecture lately about Blake Griffin from Grizzlies fans. Does Blake Griffin suck? Sure. Would you cheer him if he were in Memphis? Most of this is silly summertime conjecture , but remember this: Memphis was one ping pong ball away from being Blake Griffin fans back in 2010.  So maybe we would bluff.

- (9:46) QPon redeems himself by cutting to the basket and gets a quick layup on a sharp pass from ZBo. 92-69.

- (9:33) After nearly trapping Paul in the corner, he sneaks his way to the baseline and throws a pretty pass to Eric Bledsoe to make it 92-71. Time is running low in this game. If you are asking me back in 2012, my worry meter is around -500% worry. Now, my stomach hurts just watching this.

- (9:13) OJ Mayo hits nice three pointer to push the lead to 24, the largest of the quarter. The Grizz offense is rolling and the crowd is audibly buzzing. Miss you OJ.

- (8:54) After a Reggie Evans three-second violation, there is an official timeout with the Grizzlies up 95-71. So how on earth did the Clippers get back into this game? This is what the Grizzlies offense produced over the next from this point until a Clippers timeout at the 2:57 minute mark:

  • (8:40) Mayo pull up jumper miss

  • (8:15) Cunningham lay-up miss

  • (8:01) Conley turnover

  • (7:30) Randolph turnover

  • (6:49) Randolph jumper miss

  • (6:04) Gay jumper miss

  • (5:26) Conley 1 of 2 free throws

  • (4:420 Conley jumper miss

  • (4:10) Speights lay-up miss

  • (3:50) Gay turnover

  • (3:21) Gay jumper miss

  • (2:57) Gay jumper miss

- Notice who didn't get a shot during this unbearable stretch: Marc Gasol.  He entered the game with about seven minutes left and he had one turnover.  That's it.  It's weird to not watch the offense go through him, but his game then was not where it is now.

- While this is how the Clippers offense responded

  • (8:21) Bledsoe dunk blocked

  • (7:54) Evans lay-up

  • (7:51) Griffin dunk on a free throw rebound

  • (7:21) Paul lay-up

  • (6:28) Bledsoe jumper

  • (5:08) Griffin lay-up

  • (4:28) Paul turnover

  • (4:04) Bledsoe turnover

  • (3:44) Young miss

  • (3:17) Paul turnover

- And just like that a 24 point lead becomes a 12 point lead. But here’s the thing, sure the Grizzlies went cold on offense. And the Clippers were busting ass trying defending the Grizzlies. But they really had not done a lot to get back into the game. Not a ton of threes (yet). Not forcing the Grizzlies into constant turnovers.

- After this timeout, if you watch the Clippers feed, which I am now, the broadcast team does not even think they are really back in this thing. The sideline reporter is previewing the after-show by saying that the Grizzlies have dominated this game, except for this little stretch here in the 4th quarter. Time to do some re-writes.

- (2:47) Coming out of the timeout with 2:47 left, Paul dribbles literally around the entire baseline and finds Swaggy P in the corner for a three. Down by 9. Ralph Lawler says "Down by nine…now the Grizzlies can’t get any more baskets." Wwwwwweeeeelllllppppppp…..

- (2:22) After a Mayo miss, Paul finds Swaggy P again for three, cutting the lead to six. Gut tightening…bowels clenching…heart racing

- (1:47) After a Conley miss, Paul find Young once more for good measure. The lead is three. I still can’t $#^%#& believe it. I know he’s a joke now…but I hate Nick Young so much.

- One point in nearly seven minutes. Plus 21 for the Clippers during this stretch.

- I hate Nick Young

- (1:30) Turnover by Gasol and Blake Griffin is fouled on the lay up. He makes them both. At least it wasn’t a three. One point game now.

- I want to set the scene where I am watching the game. My wife got tired and decided that she should go to bed. I figured, with the big lead, that there was no harm. I’ll watch the end of the game in the bedroom and go to sleep with a smile on my face. The third and fourth quarters are played while my wife is asleep. I had to stifle excitement during the third quarter and excruciating pain in the fourth. The Clips are making me hurt.

- (1:10) After the Griffin free throws, the Grizzlies go back to Zach Randolph, who is battling against Reggie Evans for post position. ZBo misses a ten footer, but his shot is rebounded by Tony Allen, who misses the put back. And the lid is nailed shut on the basket for the Grizzlies.

- (:50.3) Paul finds Reggie Evans of all people for an easy lay-up for the Clippers to regain the lead. CUE THE NINE INCH NAILS!

- (28.4) YESSSSS The Grizzlies make a field goal for the first time in over eight minutes as Rudy Gay makes a clutch jumper to give the Grizz a 98-97 lead. One of the under-rated factors on this play is that Chris Paul is guarding Rudy Gay, who gay has a seven inch height advantage over. Maybe hold off on the NIN.

- Timeout Clippers. Now it’s up to the X’s and O’s prowess of one Vinny Del Negro.

- And VDN draws up a foul.  Game on the line and Chris Paul draws a foul on Tony Allen. It’s not a bad call because it was definitely a foul. But the game is awful snug for a foul to be given on a play that had not even developed enough into a scoring possession.

- Paul makes one free throw. 98-98...You can have it all/my empire of dirt

- Paul makes the second free throw 99-98...I will let you down…

- Now the game has come down to the X’s and O’s prowess of Lionel Hollins. 24 seconds left.

- Rudy Gay misses a contested shot. Game

- I will make you hurt.

***

I just finished re-watching this as I am typing this. I still don’t believe it, and I have seen it with my own two eyes twice now. I don’t really want to dwell on what happened or whose fault is it. I don’t really remember what happened after this.

But my wife tells an interesting story. We were married the previous January. We met in the summer after the amazing 2011 playoff run, so she really had very little information of my Grizzlies fandom. That season, my wife and I moved into an apartment and got a new cable company. Because I do not live in Memphis anymore and am defiantly not rich enough for the NBA TV package, watching Grizzlies games can be difficult. I could only watch games when the Atlanta Hawks were not on, because apparently I am in Atlanta’s market. So I did not watch many games that season.

She has no idea yet.

We had had an odd week before the game anyway. Earlier in the week, my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins gave up a three goal lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the 3rd period in the NHL playoffs and lost in OT, a series they would lose. It was quite a bummer.

We had also decided previously to start fertility treatments. Let’s just say that week I had the first (of many) fertility checks, and I don’t need to tell you what all is involved there. After taking the test, our doctor called us to come in and talk about the fertility test result.

This…

seemed…

bad…

So we spent the entire day thinking that we were not going to be able to father a child on our own, and that is a hard reality to realize. What we didn’t realize was that the doctor just wanted to let us know in person that everything was alright and discuss where we go from there. But we had been sufficiently freaked out.

So after the Grizzlies/Clippers debacle, she wakes up at 2 AM and I am not in bed. I am a hard sleeper, so once I go to bed I usually stay there. She goes to look for me and finds me in the kitchen. I am standing in my underwear in the kitchen, silently eating cheese and staring at the wall.

She asks me what’s wrong.

I can’t even tell her.

***

Hopefully this re-telling did not make you too depressed. I bet a lot of Grizzlies fans have a similar story.

Maybe you got a little joy out of our collective Grizzlies fandom pain. Maybe this is a therapeutic schadenfruede.  Maybe seeing someone else's suffering in a humorous light puts your own fandom in perspective.  I hope so.  Either that or put down that bottle and come off the ledge.

For me, the next year would be a whirlwind, where I would learn a lot about fandom, a lot about stick-to-itiveness, and a lot about family. For my best day as a Grizzlies fan would come just over one year later.

To be continued...

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