Bring it up, guys.
Look around you. Look to your left and right. We’ve talked about this before, but this team, team 16 of the Memphis Grizzlies, this team will never again play together after this playoff run. This is it. Some will stay, some will go, and the time will come for that. But for now, play with that urgency. There is nothing but the Spurs. There is nothing but game one. There is nothing but tonight.
Tonight, we face not only the best defensive team in the NBA, with a Hall of Fame coach and an MVP-caliber player. We face adversity. Our two wing players we thought would be starters for us this season are out. We are banged up, we are old, and we are out of our league, or so the outside world tells us. Spurs in 6. Spurs in 5. Spurs in a sweep. A pretty tough spot to be in...
But we’ve been here before.
The Lakota Sioux were some of the fiercest warriors the Great Plains have ever known. They purposely looked for dry, seasoned wood when they were making weapons, such as bows. According to The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living, by Joseph Marshall, there were really two ways to go about finding this wood. One, you find a young ash tree and harvest it, cure it, and let it dry for five years. It was a process, but a necessary one to get the strength needed.
Lakota warriors were always on the lookout, however, for ash trees that had been struck by lightning. The force of the lightning strike would cause the tree to be instantly dried and cured, stronger than any other kind of wood. They were rare but preferred, Marshall wrote, because those trees had suffered ultimate adversity. That adversity gave the trees ultimate strength.
Ultimate adversity breeds ultimate strength.
Who has been through more adversity than this core, your team? Who else has had to play 28 guys and still found a way to make the playoffs? Who has been together through so many tough times longer than us? Who picked Zach up when his mom passed, who looked out for Mike when he played with a broken freaking face, who upset the damn San Antonio Spurs in 2011 when no one thought they had a chance in hell to do it?
The Memphis Grizzlies did. And the core of that team, that heartbeat that has been through all of that and then some, is still here.
So the time has come to lead, to go out and play for each other one more time. Our strength is about to be tested again, but we know we can handle it. Because we’ve seen our leaders do it. We know that you all will show us the way. We are here together, with one common goal: to be 1-0 at the end of this night.
From ultimate adversity comes ultimate strength. Come together and use those lessons and experiences to shock everyone but those of us here right now. All that matters is the belief and relentless pursuit of those who will be in the arena tonight donning Beale Street Blue. We’re about to do some great things, and we’re going to do them as we always have - together.
Together on one. 3, 2, 1,