My wife and I have three kids, and let me preface this by saying, they’re great. We love them to death, but sometimes, they make you so mad and so frustrated you don’t really know what to do anymore.
Let’s take this for example. I went to get lunch yesterday at a fast food place and my four year old wanted to go because why not, she just wants to ride along. Before we leave the house she spies a cookie and wants to eat that instead, after negotiating, we agree she can take the cookie but can’t eat it. My wife and I know exactly what will happen but nonetheless we proceed anyway, needless to say, in the middle of the drive thru she is happily eating her cookie. After asking her why she decided to do it anyway, she responded, “she was just so hungry that she forgot that I told her not to eat it.” Fair enough.
Fast forward to that evening and our nine year old decides to do something in the play room that my wife specifically asked him not do, but he does it anyway. The reason why? He forgot when he was in the moment.
Over and over again we can tell our kids the right things to do and after they get in trouble they can repeat it back to us, and they can say the same thing over and over again, but yet still do they very thing we asked them not to do.
The Grizzlies lost again last night to another team that they should have beaten. A team that featured no Anthony Davis and Jahlil Okafor was largely their best player on the floor. The same Jahlil Okafor who averages 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds through this season. Mike Conley said after the game that sometimes they just dont have the talent to compete. This was not one of those nights. This was a night on national television that you had every bit of talent to compete with the New Orleans Pelicans, but right on cue the game unfolded exactly like a large majority of all the other games have unfolded. The same song and dance, they Grizzlies stay competitive in the first half, they go into halftime tied or down a few points, the third quarter starts, the other team has a small run, the Grizzlies lose by twenty points.
As I am walking down to the press conference and then to go to the locker room to see what everyone has to say, I think “what on earth can we ask them that we haven’t already asked”? What could they possibly say that will be different than when we were in this very scenario a week ago? It started with J.B. Bickerstaff, he said, “We’ve gotta do a better job as coaches of maintaining our guys spirit. I think that’s the difficult piece is in those moments because of what’s happened the past six weeks, we’re kinda beat, we allow one play to impact the next play and that impacts the next play and the next thing you know, its one of those runs that is happening.”
After leaving the press room, we all head in to the locker room to talk to the players. “It’s really embarrassing”, Conley said, “For us to play the way that we did, especially in the second half is unacceptable.” He also added “Nobody is gonna save us, we have nobody coming in the door tomorrow that is gonna change what were doing.” Last week after the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, we asked Mike Conley some of the same questions and his answer last night was almost completely the same in the fact that no one is coming to save them. This Grizzlies team is in this season by themselves and they have to figure a way out on their own.
After a lengthy wait for Marc Gasol, he finally emerged from the showers. When he was asked if he had seen any change from the last team meeting that the team had where Marc said he needed to be a more vocal leader, “Obviously not, I’m not accomplishing the goal that I set for myself and it’s frustrating. You gotta do what you gotta do as a player, you gotta do your job to the best of your abilities and that’s all you can do, when you get down, get up again and start swinging. When your teammate is down help them up and right now it doesn’t feel that way.”
The Grizzlies continue to do the same thing in the second halves of games, even though when you ask them about it after the game, they know exactly what they are supposed to do. They practice it. They understand what is asked of them as professional basketball players, but for whatever reason when it comes down to execution in the moment, they forget. They slip up. They are not able to figure out what to do in the stretches of basketball when the other team goes on a run.
The same words and phrases seem to ring hollow once again after last night’s loss and Mike Conley is right, it is embarrassing.