Social media is a powerful tool is this world we all live in.
Love him or hate him, our current president here in the U.S. drives that point home. As do all the Instagram models and Twitter Periscopers (Scopers?) and Facebook Live users and “pivot to video” websites...all around us there is a push to get our message out there through various platforms. We want our takes to showcase the best of us, in the way we want to be perceived. We want it clear. We want it concise.
We want it now.
Chandler Parsons, the polarizing wing for the Memphis Grizzlies, understands this dynamic very well. He knows that this past season did not go according to plan (understatement of the year) on a variety of fronts. He isn’t stupid. He knows much of the fan base isn’t sold on him, that some are hopeful he isn’t a Memphis Grizzly much longer. He is very aware of how he is perceived, and how that is very quickly and soundly becoming reality among Grizzlies fans.
How can you tell? Social media. Make no mistake, he is still living his life his way. The underwear photo shoots and pictures with Blake Griffin probably won’t change the minds of those who doubt him. But also being shown on his social media accounts are his progress as he works himself in to shape for the upcoming season.
Here's your weekly Chandler Parsons update:— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) July 18, 2017
He's finally putting arc on his shot ( : ChandlerParsons/IG) pic.twitter.com/qTgNBihFhU
Those of us who watched Chandler play this season know arc is quite the development in his game.
CHANDLER PARSONS SUMMER DUNK ALERT pic.twitter.com/tXfZ4qZwrn— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) July 1, 2017
The Parsons we saw play for the Grizzlies this year wouldn’t be willing to try that dunk.
Weekly Chandler Parsons update: He's taking shots off the dribble now pic.twitter.com/QpDeB4KTjv— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) June 26, 2017
He is consciously putting out there that he is getting better and working his hardest to contribute in Memphis this season. Of course that makes sense - he is getting paid quite handsomely to play basketball for the Grizzlies, and his presence on social media is a great way to showcase his progress.
It is also a piece of trying to hit the reset button on his time in Memphis off the court. Chandler recently made a surprise trip to the Bluff City to speak with media and help out at a local basketball camp.
As he spoke with local media, he emphasized how he is feeling better than he has at any point in a long time physically.
Chandler Parsons--"I feel unbelievable. First time is 3 years I've had a full offseason to work on my game." Welcomed news for Grizz fans. pic.twitter.com/XB7za3QnUd— Mike Ceide (@MCeide_WREG3) June 28, 2017
Being more self-aware is a welcome sign from Parsons. Memphis is a place where the people and fans value a connection with their players perhaps more than any other NBA franchise. When Zach Randolph’s number was retired by the Grizzlies earlier this offseason even though he is still active in the NBA as a player, several folks outside of Memphis balked at the decision. Very few, if any, Grizzlies followers disagreed. There is a reason for that - Zach was a great player at his peak with the Grizzlies, and he was an even better community leader.
Parsons appears to be understanding that more...or at least getting good advice on that front from those who have his best interests in mind. He certainly does not need to live in Memphis in the offseason (few Grizzlies do) or make numerous appearances here. But steps forward like his recent visit help build much-needed good will and show investment in the place that is the home of the NBA team that has made him very rich.
It comes down to that, really...investment, and evidence of that investment. Chandler wants it to be known that he is investing in his game and trying to be what Grizzlies fans hoped he would be when he signed his deal. He isn’t going to Chancun (at least not yet, although going on vacation would be fine of course), he is in the gym putting in work. It isn’t all Hollywood starlets and commercials, it is meeting with kids and advancing the idea that Parsons will be different this coming season.
It’s an attempt at squashing the fear that he is, in fact, not worth the investment in him.
That fear is real. And it is understandable. No offense to Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore, but their signings will not save the Memphis Grizzlies. Chandler Parsons was paid to be the third best player on this team. He was brought in to bridge the gap between the old (Randolph, Tony Allen, Vince Carter) and the new. Head Coach David Fizdale was counting on him, General Manger Chris Wallace was counting on him, the fan base was counting on him.
They all still are...or at least should be.
In the revamped and revved up Western Conference, the only chance the Grizzlies have to be a competitive seed (4, 5, 6) is with Chandler Parsons healthy and effective as both a scorer and facilitator. He is the key. The bet was on Parsons being the perfect fit alongside Mike Conley and Marc Gasol long-term, and when he is healthy he is, in theory.
But will he be healthy? No one truly knows.
So, we check Twitter and Instagram for Parsons updates. We watch hopefully, summer day dreaming of a time in the fall where the narrative may start to shift. A movement away from Parsons, potential bust to Parsons, a reclamation realized as he drains threes and creates in the pick and roll with Marc Gasol. A moment where he hits a game-winning shot and looks around FedExForum at a cheering crowd roaring in approval.
For now it remains a dream, not reality. The vision of a better Parsons is being fed by the power of social media. We have to wait for who the real Chandler Parsons is, for better or worse.
But Parsons knows all eyes are on him heading in to the 2017-2018 campaign. For the sake of the Memphis Grizzlies, let’s all hope that we will enjoy the show.