Grizzly Bear Blues turned ten yesterday. When a kid turns ten, they’re still regarded as pretty young. However, a lot can happen in ten years.
Ten years ago, I was eight-years-old. Since then, I’ve graduated high school and gone to college. I’ve grown up. Learned how to ride a bike, and then learned how to drive. Though it may not sound like an extremely long time, a lot can happen in ten years.
And in basketball, ten years is a lifetime.
In the past ten years, I witnessed a whole glorious era of Grizzlies basketball come and go. I saw injuries and triumphs; beautiful moments and victories. I fell in love with players, and watched them leave.
And Grizzly Bear Blues has lived through it all. As long as I’ve been watching and loving this basketball team, Grizzly Bear Blues has been covering it.
In light of Grizzly Bear Blues celebrating its tenth birthday, I’m going to take you back for a moment as I rank my top ten favorite Grizzlies moments of the past ten years.
GBB, here’s to celebrating ten, and more importantly giving me an excuse to look back and relive some of my fondest Grizzlies memories.
10. Fizdale’s post-game rant
SOMEBODY START A GOFUNDME RIGHT NOW TO HELP FIZDALE PAY THIS FINE HE'S ABOUT TO GET. A WORTHY CAUSE. WOAH. RESPECT pic.twitter.com/HEMKiHjBkT— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) April 18, 2017
Although David Fizdale’s time as a Grizzlies coach was short-lived, I had to include his iconic post-game speech following a playoff loss to the Spurs, in which the refs arguably robbed us of victory.
Even when you strip away the classic one-liners—“Take that for data,” “They’re not gonna rook us”—it’s still a damn good speech. That night, Fizdale went from being our cool, hip coach to a true Memphian.
He had our backs and wore his heart on his sleeve as he encompassed all of the aspects of our city that we hold so dearly: heart, grit, pride.
My personal favorite part was when he said, “We fought our way back into that game, and they didn’t even give us a chance.” I don’t know even know why, honestly. His delivery was just solid on that one. It gave me the chills.
I attended our next home game in the series, and the applause Fizdale received when his name was announced was unmatched to anything I have ever heard for a coach. And Memphis was quick; let me tell you. I swear, half of the arena was filled with “Take that for data” T-shirts.
The moment was priceless, and I’ll always respect him for it.
9. Believe Memphis
It’s not a moment, necessarily, but it’s too good not to include.
When the eight-seeded Grizzlies played the one-seeded Spurs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, these two words became everything. There was really nothing else to say that could better capture the feeling in this city. We weren’t the better team by any means; our records and skill showed that. But we had more heart. We had more grit.
It wasn’t realistic to think that we could possibly win; we couldn’t assume.
So we had to believe.
It was everywhere—on door-signs in local shops, plastered onto those famous yellow towels. You felt it as you walked down the streets; the city was electrified in a way that was simply inexplainable. You smiled at the stranger sporting a Grizzlies shirt across a restaurant. It was like we were all in on some big secret. It was like we all knew what was coming, even though in reality, we had no idea what the next few years would bring to this city.
We wanted to win a game, but we won the series. And that was just the beginning.
Suddenly, “Believe Memphis” was more than just a silly slogan people threw around. The Grizzlies gave it meaning. Mike, Marc, Tony, and ZBO gave it meaning.
8. Getting the #2 pick and drafting Ja Morant
Also: With the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft ... the Memphis Grizzlies select … Ja Morant of Murray State— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 19, 2019
It’s the most recent of the list, but in time, it may even prove to be the most important.
This summer, the Grizzlies drafted Ja Morant, and the excitement surrounding this choice has been electrifying.
The Grizzlies have struggled these past few years as they’ve fought to create a new identity while still holding onto the one that was dying. Drafting Jaren Jackson Jr. last year was a pivotal move for a Grizzlies rebuild, but adding nineteen-year-old star Ja Morant finally seemed like enough to truly ignite the rebuild and push it into action.
In the midst of Grizzlies fans mourning the trade of our beloved point-guard, Mike Conley, Ja brought in a positive fire that seemed to put out the negative one that was parting with Mike Conley.
But it’s not just his skill that’s gotten everybody so hype; it’s his personality. Since he’s been drafted, Ja has shown an immense love for Memphis and the Grizzlies that has made him a fan-favorite before he’s even stepped foot on the court.
He and Jaren feed Grizzlies fans incredible content surrounding their friendship and give us a similar feeling to what we had with Marc and Mike, though maybe even more personal due to their youth and active social media presences.
It’s a great feeling; being excited and hopeful for the future of this franchise. It’s a feeling we missed, and it’s good to have it back again.
7. First Team All Defense
Tony Allen, man. There’s just nobody else like him.
Because nobody else would shout “First Team All Defense” about themselves. In a game. When he was making strong defensive plays. It’s not cocky; it’s TA. He’s animated, and he’s passionate, and he’s Memphis.
Him repeatedly shouting “First Team All Defense” during a victory against the Warriors to anybody who would listen was iconic, and those words will forever be grouped with his name in my mind every time I hear them.
6. Courtney Lee buzzer beater - Lob to Lee
The Grizzlies have seen many incredible buzzer-beaters in these last ten years, but I couldn’t fit all of them in my list. So I had to choose one. And Vince Carter with the in-bounds pass to Courtney Lee with .3 seconds (!) on the clock to win the game by 1 point was just the best.
We had been down by twenty-six points in this game against the Sacramento Kings, which made a victory in itself reason to celebrate. But this moment—this shot—had all of Memphis on our feet screaming.
I have a friend who left the game early because we were losing so badly but was hanging around FedExForum talking to people until the game ended. Imagine his confusion when the doors to FedExForum burst open and he was met with hundreds of Grizzlies fans screaming in joy. Safe to say he will never leave a game early again.
5. Mike Conley Mask Game
I’ve talked about this moment in a previous article, but it’s a pretty good one, so let me rehash.
Mike Conley literally broke his face in a playoff series against Portland. There was no way he was coming back to play anytime soon. Right?
Conley returned to “face” off against the Warriors in Golden State just days after his injury, giving serious Superman-vibes as he put on a mask and scored 22 points on the road to lead us to victory. And a couple days later, the masked man came back home and won again for us to see in person.
The Grizzlies gave out little plastic masks to every single fan in attendance that night. He was our Captain, and we were right by his side as he defied all expectations.
This is arguably the most iconic moment of Mike Conley’s legendary twelve-year tenure with the Grizzlies, for Conley emphasized the words “All Heart” and “Grit” as he proved his strength and dedication to the game, and to his city.
(Miss ya, Mike.)
4. Grizzlies 24-point comeback against the Warriors
This picture is going in a frame faster than you can say 24-point lead pic.twitter.com/Hl7h8PPMfe— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) January 7, 2017
The Grizzlies 24-point comeback at Oracle Arena marked the largest comeback of the 2016-17 season. It also made us the first team since the 2014-15 Spurs to beat the Warriors twice in the same regular season.
ZBO, TA, and Mike all recorded double-doubles. Troy Daniels hit a key three with just over a minute left in the fourth-quarter to help force overtime. Draymond Green turned the ball over in overtime, leading to a classic Troy Daniels corner three. (I loved typing that sentence.) Mike Conley hit a key jump-shot with less than a minute left in overtime.
It was a classic game, and it sticks out from other regular-season games because I vividly remember watching it. It was another instance where the Grizzlies shocked the world and accomplished the unthinkable. It was another night that Grizzlies Fan Twitter was undefeated. It was fun. Beating that Warriors team was always fun.
3. Grit N’ Grind
When Tony Allen threw out the words “All Heart: Grit, Grind” in a post-game interview, he had no idea the impact on a city that they’d come to make.
National media members love to throw these words around when talking about the Grizzlies, but they’ll never understand their meaning like we do here in Memphis.
The words were repeated by players. They were repeated by fans. They were real, and unique, and that was exactly what this Grizzlies team was. They seemed to represent everything about this unnamed era of Grizzlies basketball, so they became the name. They became the era.
The Grit N’ Grind Era may be over, but these words will forever lives on in our hearts. When we think of TA, or ZBO, we think of these words and what they meant to us.
There was a time when they seemed to mean everything.
2. 2011 playoff series against the Spurs
You’ve heard the story a thousand times before, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.
We were the eight-seed, they were the one-seed. We watched. We believed. We made history, and we won.
We went from never having won a playoff game in franchise history to being only the 2nd eight-seed in NBA history to defeat a one-seed in the first round.
This series turned us from a joke into something to fear; something to respect.
- Game Six against the Clippers
Come on. You guys knew this was gonna be my #1. Were you actually curious?
Because it was simply the best. I was lucky enough to be at that game, and it is an experience I will never forget.
ZBO took one for the city and full-on choked Blake Griffin. Was it dirty? Of course it was. Was it deserved? Of course it wa— Anyways.
When ZBO was ejected in the fourth quarter, he skipped out of the arena and flung his headband into the crowd. He wasn’t mad; he was happy. Because he knew we’d won the series, and he knew he’d been a huge part of that. And when Chris Paul was ejected a few minutes later, he wasn’t happy, but he was actually civil. He shook our players’ hands and accepted defeat.
Witnessing that game in the midst of our intense Clippers hate was an indescribable feeling. We may have loathed the Clippers passionately, but we loved the Grizzlies even more.
That game was, quite honestly, perfect.
- Matt Barnes: “Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is.”
- Nicky C and his banana
After a great team win again/Nick Calathes stealing bananas form the player lounge lol/Thank u fans for great support pic.twitter.com/a0hQUm4dFB— Beno Udrih (@BenoUdrih1) March 25, 2014
- How could I not mention Nicky C and his banana?
- Shane Battier (That’s all. He’s just awesome.)
There you have it. My top ten moments of the past ten years of Grizzlies basketball. Let me know if you have any favorites that I left out.
Ten years of Grizzlies basketball for ten years of Grizzly Bear Blues. But both have many more years of memories to create and capture.
Who knows? Maybe ten years from now, we’ll have a championship to look back on.
That’s the plan, isn’t it?