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Memphis Grizzlies Book Club 2016: The End is Here

We have one final book recommendation for all the Grizzlies fans out there - and it's a doozy.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

You thought we were done with book recommendations, but I've got one final recommendation. It's for all the Grizzlies fans out there. Guys, shut the door, have a seat. We've got some real talk coming:

Grizzlies fans - Reality Hunger, David Shields

Best line: "The life span of a fact is shrinking."

Or this:  "Our lives aren't prepackaged along narrative lines and, therefore, by it's very nature, reality-based art -€” underprocessed, underproduced -€” splinters and explodes. Truth, uncompromisingly told, will always have its ragged edges."

Or this: "Art is not truth; art is a lie that enables us to recognize truth."

But mostly this: "Every artistic movement from the beginning of time is an attempt to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art."

This book is part essay, part poem, part manifesto, and part confession. Part of its purpose is to defy genre, to complicate definition, and to show that, if our time craves more than a novel, it craves the pieces of the author it can find in the novel.

If you don't have the patience to read a book, this one reads like a Twitter feed, bombarding you with a series of thoughts that sometimes arrive at a conclusion.

One of the more fascinating developments in basketball is the gap between narrative and reality. Narratives exist to package complexity into manageable doses. They paint with necessarily large brushes.

But the life span of a fact is shrinking, and as such, it might be time to move past Grit and Grind. Words can only stretch so far, and we've smuggled far too much inside Grit and Grind.

GnG was a spontaneous war cry, from the lips of a maniacal defender whose on-court mania was a literal avatar for Grit and Grind.

GnG became the ethos for a throwback team content to muck things up. It transitioned seamlessly into an organic marketing scheme that traded in the classic Us vs Them language of sport. Because GnG was the team's identity, it was then used as the primary defense for any time physical play stepped over the line: ZBo choke-slamming Blake Griffin, ZBo punching Steven Adams, Tony Allen air kicking Chris Paul in the face, Matt Barnes sprinting down the wrong tunnel, ZBo entering the wrong locker room, et al. These were all just the Grizzlies playing Grizzlies ball.

And from the beginning, GnG was a cultural identifier for a city proud of its own warts, and the warts of its NBA team, and suspicious of anyone who wasn't.

(*Hrdlicka note: Not for nothing, but it made for some pretty dope shirts too.*)

GnG has served us well for many years. But I became a little uncomfortable towards the end of last season. The language of sports inescapably trades in the languages of war and violence. Fight for the win. Claw, tooth, and nail. Beat the enemy.

Be that as it may, I heard far too much about Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson embodying GnG, and by extension "being Memphis." Folding them into GnG, an idea that already embraces the rough and tumble, teetered perilously close to a blanket justification of their alleged off-court actions. I don't assign anything overtly devious to this. The city of Memphis, itself, has issues, making it easy to embrace players with issues like parents embrace the black sheep of the family. We can bust his chops, but if anybody else talks out the side of their neck, there'll be trouble.

Grit and Grind has been a willing and able moniker for anybody to smuggle anything Grizzlies related into it for the last half dozen years.

Which is to say that GnG is a tired device in need of retirement.

On the court, the Grizzlies haven't been Grit and Grind-y in a while. Memphis hasn't been an elite defense since the end of 2014. Their defensive rebounding has fallen to below average. There is mounting evidence that a post-centric offense is among the least efficient ways to put a basketball through a basketball hoop.

Tony Allen is thirty-four, Zach Randolph thirty-five. We've fired two coaches since the beginning of the era, and most of the front office is gone, too. It goes without saying that that front office has been, and should be, in the business of getting the best basketball players possible, not ones that fit inside the space of three words.

If Grit and Grind means anything any more, it's entirely different than what Tony Allen meant when he unwittingly gave it life all those years ago. The death of GnG is not something I'm arguing should happen.

It has already happened.

It happened when you were buying a Grizzlies shirt from the fifth t-shirt company that slapped the GnG label on its wares; when the team traded for Jeff Green and suddenly all five guys weren't on a string; when Marc Gasol broke his foot in a way that generally is very, very bad for big men; when the on-court product shifted further and further away from the defense and rebounding and post offense towards something else; when you were arguing that no, Lance Stephenson was worth $9.4mm because {insert bad reasons here} and the Grizzlies would never be able to replace him. It happened when, with each new fact that came along, we kept on chanting Grit & Grind.

It happened because nothing, especially not in the NBA, is true for half a decade anymore. Players age. Coaches adapt. Darwin would be proud. It's what happens. The life span of a fact has shrunk.

It's time for the next one.

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