I have always looked up to Matt Hrdlicka, who we announce today is leaving GBB after four years on staff.
His skill as a writer among Grizzlies bloggers is unquestioned. Since he began writing for GBB in the summer of 2013 (I started here a couple months later), I loved reading his work. He had an amazing ability to put the Grizzlies through a unique prism, analyzing them in a way I never thought to before.
He has written about music on this site before for those August dog days, but has also shown a real understanding of the analytic wave in the NBA and how it can be limited. He put the Grizzlies in to a Book Club (one of my personal favorites is here), burned Grit and Grind in a Pale Fire, and always taught me something through his great Thoughts pieces - here is one on the Jeff Green trade that really still resonates today.
All along the way, he made you think about this team and sport from a different perspective. He challenged you to keep up, in a way - there has never been a Matt Hrdlicka click-bait post. When you went in to an article written by theRealHrdlicka, you had to make sure you gave it your entire attention, otherwise you missed out on its brilliance. As his editor most recently and his peer the past four years, it has been a real honor to be made better for having read his work.
Matt also has done great work through his business and charity work as well. This past winter he helped low-income families in Memphis by raising over $9,000 for Service Over Self to make improvements to lower energy costs. He is an excellent writer, but also an excellent person who doesn’t just write or tweet about making the world better.
He is doing his part.
Matt Hrdlicka ended his piece on Memphis and Pale Fire with this very poignant line -
Maybe instead of pressing towards that uncertain future, we cling to a past that, if not fully present, is at least not absent of meaning.
I would challenge anyone to find a better summary of the end of the Grit and Grind Era than that one sentence. Matt’s legacy at GBB is a large one. It will be felt through his podcast appearances, be them with me (one of my favorite GBBLive guests ever is Matt Hrdlicka) or Chris Herrington of the Commercial Appeal. It will be felt in his tremendous writing, which has influenced not only me but many others over the years.
The best compliment I can pay Matt, though, is he made me better. Whether he knew it or not, he challenged me to step up my game and grow as a writer for the good of GBB. When I started here, I looked up to Matt and I still do. But not for the same reasons. Before, it was strictly as - in my opinion - as good of a Grizzlies writer as there is out there. Now? It is as someone that I consider a friend.
We will miss Matt at GBB. I am grateful for all the work that Matt has done over the years, for his talent, and for always honoring his writing commitments despite a hectic schedule. Matt, thank you for four great years with Grizzly Bear Blues. Thank you for the Thoughts, and the book recommendations, and for representing GBB well.
Thank you, Matt, for everything.