I can remember being in grade school, and being asked about my favorite NBA team during recess. Most kids would say the Lakers, (granted, I do enjoy them today because of Kobe) Celtics, Knicks, Sixers, teams like that. Here comes big headed, big eared Darren Jeans: “I’m a Grizzlies fan!”
The group would always respond in a collective, “A WHAT?!” They’d all make fun of me because of how bad the Grizzlies were. Keep in mind. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. It didn’t stop there - it even went on outside of school recess. Like most black people, I have maybe 100 cousins. I’m still discovering cousins to this day. During my birthday every year, I would have my party at LaserQuest. I miss that place.
I mean it’s still there. I’m just too old to go now. You can’t be a 28 year old man going to LaserQuest, for obvious reasons.
So, back to my birthday bash. After LaserQuest happened, we’d all go to my house, eat pizza and ice cream, and play hide and seek. Then, we’d catch the game. Luckily, my Birthday comes around the same time as the annual MLK game. So all the big names would be in action. And the Memphis Grizzlies. I’d get teased again. “Look, it’s your Grizzlies struggling to win 20 games again!”
I don't think you guys understand how it feels when your own cousins teased you for being a hometown fan. I’d try to fight back, “They’re already won 20 games!” Then they’d laugh. I'm clearly scarred by thus. Oh, but how the tables have turned.
We've come a long ways from being made fun of because we are Grizzlies fans. The disrespect is disappearing. No more, “Want to hear a joke? The Memphis Grizzlies” comments. Those are dying. Mostly, we have the Core Four to thank for that. They put us on the map as a team that can win in this league.
However, even during that era, you still had the, “yeah but they’re boring” stigma attached to the team. Granted, it sometimes was hard to watch a Tuesday night game against the Pacers at times. Especially with the final score being 78-75. Gross. So I can halfway understand that clap back.
Look at that picture above. Look at that guy. Looks like a movie star doesn't he? Even better. That’s OUR guy. He’s at the ESPYS. Representing the Memphis Grizzlies. We’re becoming that “cool” team. We’re becoming that team that you want to keep an eye on because of our guys, and their potential. The Grizzlies have been blessed by receiving not one, but two potentially star players through the draft.
This franchise ended up being incredibly lucky in this years draft. They were gifted with Ja Morant as the second overall pick. Now, I’m not here to tell you he's a star. It’s far too early to call. However, he has the potential to be a major star in this league. Even before he’s played a game in the league, he's a hot commodity for the national media.
You all know Chris Haynes. If you don’t, you should. Fix that. What’s that video above? Oh, that’s just ANOTHER one of our guys getting spotlight from a national media personality. I’ll say this. He’s not as media savvy as Jaren Jackson Jr, but he certainly has that charm to make him must see on TV. Mix his delight with Jaren Jackson Jr, and you have yourself a two headed national media monster. In a good way.
**sound turned up**— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) July 16, 2019
BIG MOOD: pic.twitter.com/t98Cghc1hl
Don’t forget about the coach. He looks like a guy you’d just want to grab a beer and shoot the breeze with on a Sunday afternoon. Now all of this is meaningless if they don't produce on the court. That is understood. However, it’s still nice to know that you have guys that can make people gravitate towards them because of their personality. They’ve already won over most of the locals. Sure, there’s still a crowd that isn’t sold on these guys because they're strictly all about the “on the court” production.
Whatever. They’re boring.
These guys aren’t. This team has personality. They have swag. They’re not afraid to speak their minds. More importantly, they’re exciting. If their play is anything similar to how they are off court, we’re in for a fun season. Bad season RECORD speaking, but fun. All because we know we have a bright future.
They have not one, but two players that can be the face of the franchise. Can that cause a rift in the locker room? Maybe. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. All I know is this. That little kid me that was getting bullied for being a Grizz fan is smiling right now. Why? Because finally, those same kids whom were laughing at me are now realizing how cool this team is, and how fun they’re going to be over the next 5-8 years. It’s cool to be a Grizz fan. Does this make the bullying worth it?