David Fizdale was steaming as he sat down at the postgame presser. You could see it all over his face as he folded his hands and took a few questions. He praised the ferocious effort and raw competitive fight of his team in the second half. That their desperation helped claw the Grizzlies back in the game and gave them a chance to win game 2. He mentioned that he’ll look at lineups going forward to give his team the best chance to win, though odds are strong he had more than just one glass of wine on the plane trip home.
Then it happened.
I had turned off the TV a few minutes before, disgusted at what I had just seen. I felt as though my Memphis Grizzlies had been robbed of a chance to even the series. That Mike Conley and Marc Gasol shot nine combined free throws when the Spurs seemed to walk to the line every other trip down the floor infuriated me. The first half free throw count of 23-6 in favor of San Antonio made me sick to my stomach. My girlfriend had to tell me to keep it down multiple times as I screamed at the officiating crew to do their job. She told me I was acting ridiculous, and she may have been right. Throughout the evening I texted a Spurs fan and coaching friend of mine who continually told me that the Spurs were just playing great defense.
Sitting in the dark, I began to wonder if my intense fanhood had led me to overreact. The Spurs are a worthy adversary. The Spurs have five championships and look like serious contenders to hang banner number six. Watching on TV, sometimes it’s hard to see every foul, especially when every molecule in my body was begging for the comeback Memphis so desperately needed. Perhaps it was just sour grapes and I needed to calm down.
But David Fizdale wouldn’t let us doubt ourselves...he had our back.
My phone buzzed and I rolled over to check who was texting me so late. It was my good friend and fellow NBA fanatic Dan Hunter. His message simply read, “I’m a David Fizdale fan now.” I racked my brains for a moment in the game that stood out. Coming up with nothing I did a quick Google search and easily found what I was looking for.
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale unloads after Game 2 loss to Spurs: "That was a very poorly officiated game... Take that for data" (full rant) pic.twitter.com/Z983tOg5vd— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 18, 2017
I listened to his comments no less than four times over the next fifteen minutes, a smile creeping across my face. “This is his moment,” I thought to myself. Fizdale’s cool west coast/south beach vibe meshes well with the players, but it’s not who we are as the Memphis Grizzlies. His calm encouragement in times of struggle is settling, but not who we are as the Grit and Grind of the NBA. That all changed with one viral press conference.
Fiz was one of us now.
I wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t sour grapes. Coach Fizdale threw it all out there and didn’t hold back. He said all the things I had been yelling at my TV for the last two hours. He praised the class of Mike Conley and the rugged Zach Randolph while chastising “unprofessional” officials all in the same breath. He played the role of a coach hurting for his players and pissed off soccer mom all in one awesome bundle of bespectacled fury. In his heightened emotional state, he even had the wherewithal to include statistics to support his point. You’re not a numbers guy, Fizz? Could’ve fooled me.
For three minutes and four seconds, David Fizdale spoke for the city of Memphis, and for Grizzlies fans all over the world.
Anything can happen from here. The Spurs are still the Spurs and it’s a longshot at best for the Bears of Beale. But has that ever mattered to Grizzlies fans before? Coach Fizdale stuck his neck (and before long, his wallet) out for his players. Let’s hope the boys go out and lay it all on the line for their coach and their city on Thursday. One thing is for certain...
They’re Not Gonna Rook Us!