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I still believe in the Memphis Grizzlies

And that is why I am still here

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

A day in the life of this blogger, like anyone’s day, is quite busy.

  • Wake up at 5:30 AM.
  • Go to work, teach, coach football.
  • Get to daycare by 5 PM to pick up daughters.
  • Get home and make dinner/play with kids.
  • Become King Daddy and Queen Mommy as the princesses cast spells on Peppa Pig and other stuffed animals
  • Give baths to our kids (3 year old and 9 month old.)
  • Put them to bed.

Then, once everyone is in bed (including sometimes the Mrs.), you do podcasts and write articles (lots of them) about a team almost a 1,000 miles away. One that you haven’t seen play live and in person in a year and a half. One that has only one player left on it from the era of the team that you fell in love with, and even he (Mike Conley, through no real fault of his own) now appears to have one foot out the door. The times, they are a changin’...and yet here I am.

Still here.

There are days where I wonder why I still do it, to be honest. I’ve been late to social events for radio appearances. I have frustrated my wife more times than I can remember with the fact that I am rarely able to say “no” about anything I do for GBB. I’ve lost sleep, I have spent my own money and time away from my family, and sometimes the thought that crosses my mind is - for what? To what end? All to - more often than not - be ripped on and belittled from almost every direction by (usually) complete strangers? To be judged for things out of my control, or viewed negatively without any context or idea of empathy?

That isn’t to say I am looking for sympathy. I chose this. Everyone has issues, everyone is busy, and I am very fortunate to have the opportunities I do through this website. Yet I still invest so much of myself in to something that to most outsiders is at best a paid hobby and at worst an obsessive addiction.

It isn’t logical...

But love rarely is.

I’ll never forget it.

I’ve written about it before - the Game 6 series clinching win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Z-Bo skipping, “tricks” being “whooped”...the atmosphere inside FedExForum was absolutely spellbinding. I can close my eyes and be back in that place in time, my memory serving as my own personal portal to the Quantum Realm (shout out Avengers, love you 3,000) as I look back to sitting with my fiance at the time, my best friend, and his wife and watching one of the most real fan experiences of my life. The city of Memphis LOVED that team. No hyperbole. No extensive alliteration for effect, or any other tool writers better than me use to put you in that place in time alongside them.

No words can properly articulate what that night meant to me.

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The wonderful thing about my time in Memphis, which ended five years ago now, is that while this moment stands out there are countless others - both basketball and non-basketball - that are still with me as well. Friendsgivings with people who needed each other with families far away, walks down Beale Street with my new bride after we got married in December 2013, times with fellow teacher and coaches out at the Flying Saucer or Silky’s just laughing and enjoying life...these times were some of my very best.

But you don’t know you love something in the good times. That’s easy.

Love shines in the darkness that is adversity.

When the Grizzlies lost in the Western Conference Finals, I cried. When those we had just met in Memphis suffered loss - or we did ourselves - we wanted to be there for them, and them for us. In those and other down days and weeks, sports or no sports, we saw the good in both the city and those around us. Much like Memphis itself, our time in the city was imperfectly perfect. We missed out families, but loved the new friends we had made.

It’s in those painful moments I knew I loved Memphis, and the Memphis Grizzlies. And it is because of those times that when I left the city I felt that I was leaving home all over again. My relationship with my wife was directly shaped by Memphis (“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis was our wedding song), and my choice to come to Memphis against all logic (we had only been dating for nine months when we moved there from Richmond, Virginia) led me to where I am now.

A beautiful wife.

Two amazing daughters.

Doing what I love to do - teaching, being a head football coach...

And, surprisingly to me, running a Memphis Grizzlies blog.

So when it comes to matters of mind vs. heart, I usually side with the latter.

I am still here because I still believe.

I put in the time I do, and the work I do, because of what I experienced all those years ago...and the transformation that my life underwent because of my decision to come to Memphis.

Nine years ago, I never would have thought that I would live in Memphis. But I did...and it changed me as a friend, as an eventual husband, as a man, and as a person, for good.

Five years ago, I never thought I would be running Grizzly Bear Blues and making weekly radio appearances and getting the opportunity to represent this terrific staff and website that is entering its 10th year in existence. But I am...and it remains a passion that I pursue, one I never knew I had but am so glad and humbled that I found.

One that I believe in.

I believe in the city of Memphis and all it represents. All of the potential, all of the willingness to try to be better, all of the soul and love that flows through that place that I felt in my time there. That I didn’t just see...but felt.

I believe in the Grizzlies, and that while there are lean times now with new faces in place that their influence in Memphis can, and will, be what it once was.

I believe in the organic relationship between the city and its professional basketball team despite a lack of championships...something that cannot be said in very many American sports cities.

Most importantly, I believe in pursuing love in this life. It is why I do what I do on a daily basis. I love my children, and I love my wife. I love my work. And I love the city of Memphis, and their Grizzlies.

And that is why I am now, and will continue to be, here.

Follow @sbngrizzlies