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Why I’m a Fan of the Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies mean more to me than just basketball.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Grizzly Bear Blues! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [http://blog.sbnation.com/2017/5/24/15685020/why-are-you-a-fan-reader-sweepstakes-announcement-and-official-rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

The Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis, TN in 2001. I was six years old. I don’t mean to make any of you guys feel old, and I don’t mean to make myself seem young, but fandom starts early for a lot of Tennesseans.

I grew up in Jackson, TN, a decent sized city about an hour east of Memphis along I-40. I was born in Memphis, and my parents lived there for over a decade before moving east when I was two years old. I am proud of where I’m from, but even more proud to be a fan of a team that represents the city it calls home so well.

My first memory of the Grizzlies doesn’t date back to their inaugural season; I was a little too young to really understand the relationship between my state and the NBA. Rudy Gay is the first name I remember recognizing. He was supposed to be best thing since sliced bread (I think we all know how that turned out). Pau Gasol and Shane Battier became names I could recite when watching the games. But most of all, the Grizzlies were in Memphis, and that’s all that mattered to me.

But the Memphis Grizzlies were terrible.

It took four seasons in Tennessee for the team to make the playoffs. Good news though, they’ve made the playoffs every year since the 2010-11 season.

But that didn’t matter to me. At 11 years old I was finally learning the game of basketball, I knew the basic rules, and the goal of scoring more than the other team. By 2006 I got emotional about every Grizzlies game. Since my family lived so close to Memphis, FoxSports Southeast televised every single game on our cable package, building my fandom even more. (The pure act of exposure to the same team definitely contributed to my love for the Grizzlies.)

The 2010-11 season is the year my Grizzlies fandom went from “the team that I like because they are located in Tennessee” to the “team that I love because they represent my city”.

In the playoffs that season, the number eight seeded Grizzlies upset the number one seeded San Antonio Spurs. It was EPIC. It was my freshman year of high school, and my first season as a varsity player for an organized, competitive basketball team. I truly began to understand the game and the Grizzlies as an organization, not just a basketball team. There was more to this team than just basketball.

The next year they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers. Oh my God do I hate the Clippers. It started with this first round playoff series in the 2012 playoffs. I spent money I earned working at a local shoe store to attend two of the four home games in that series. I paid $50 to sit in the last row of the 300 level section in FedEx Forum for Game Seven. And the Grizzlies lost.

That loss proved to be the fire that hasn’t burned out in my Grizzlies fandom. Since that loss, my hatred for the Clippers (and most overrated, large market teams and players) has grown. I’ve spent hours arguing with friends and Twitter-ers defending Grizz Nation. And with the added media attention of having three max-contract players, I get to talk about my team even more.

Overall, I’m a fan of the Grizzlies because the team represents my city and my culture. The blue collar culture of this team has been contagious throughout Tennessee and rippled through other parts of the country. I simply love to watch their style of play and the passion each player has for the city and the game. There have been front office moves I’ve questioned (getting rid of Beno Udrih, WHAT?!), and tough losses I’ve endured, but I’m a fan because of the excitement this team brings to my life.

With the Grit-N-Grind era seemingly coming to close, it’ll be interesting to see how the cultures shifts. But I’m excited for the Grizzlies’ future. Whatever the outcome, you can bet that I’ll still be here, cheering for my Grizzlies.

Side note, the GBB staff would love to hear other stories as to why you’re a fan. Write a FanPost about it and it could be featured on our main page.

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