There was a lot of pessimism and worry going into the week of May 3rd, 2015 for the Memphis Grizzlies fanbase. Without their starting point guard, the Grizzlies were facing a 67-win Golden State Warriors team that had the newly-crowned MVP Stephen Curry. In turn, they had to roll with Nick Calathes against Curry — the NBA equivalent of an 8th-grade point guard going up against a 5-star senior that’s all over Overtime. Without Mike Conley, the offense became lethargic, as they didn’t have their primary shot creator and playmaker from the perimeter.
Then on May 5th, Conley returned way earlier than expected, and he came with a mask.
The Warriors had all the momentum, as they pummeled Memphis in Game 1, and Curry was being presented his MVP trophy. Conley’s presence served as a calm presence in the midst of a potential storm. Early in the game, each bucket gave the Grizzlies a bit of momentum, erasing any doubt or worry bit by bit among the fanbase. Ultimately, his heroics and game-high 22 points led to the Grizzlies stealing a game in Oracle Arena, a place the Warriors only lost twice in that season.
Mike Conley looked like a superhero that night. He wasn’t even supposed to be back for the playoffs. He returned sooner than expected to be with his team and help them reach that elusive NBA championship. That night, he not only gave hope to a fanbase full of worry, he put himself on the map on a national scale, garnering praise as an ultimate competitor.
To complete his superhero moniker, he did all of it with a mask.
As we all know, COVID-19 has erased normalcy as we know it, drawing mass fear and anxiety about life going forward. Forget about not being able to watch live sports, there are people worrying about their next paycheck, rent, their business, or the health of an at-risk loved one — or themselves.
As we thought the first wave was winding down, COVID came back with a vengeance. Record numbers have spiked across the country, especially in our hometown of Memphis, TN.
Indeed - 927 new tests reported Monday compared to ....5233 new tests reported today. https://t.co/6lNtENCwvr— Brad Broders (@Local24Brad) July 14, 2020
This recent spike in both cases and positivity rate is concerning. Questions are arising about moving back into phase 1 or completely shutting down again, starting schools as normal, or bringing back college sports. Memphis hasn’t resorted to shutting everything down once again yet. They’ve maintained a consistent message: wear a mask in public.
It seems simple. Granted, no one has nailed down the exact science of coronavirus and how it spread most frequently. However, wearing a mask to reduce the number of germs spread through coughing, sneezing, or even breathing seems like a logical way to prevent the spread of the virus.
And there is still a pushback. Despite the coverage of COVID-19, young adults still want to go out to the not-so-socially-distant bars, as most would argue that you can’t enjoy a drink with a mask on. You have others expressing their discomfort about wearing a mask, even for a small trip to the grocery store.
As the call to wear a mask has ramped up, the Memphis Grizzlies have also done a marvelous job of relaying the importance of wearing a mask. They’ve given out free “Believe Memphis” masks at various locations. Memphis Grizzlies President Jason Wexler has periodically reminded Memphis to “mask up.” The mask has become a staple for off-court fashion — got to show it looks good, am I right. Franchise cornerstone Jaren Jackson Jr. has also been vocal about the importance of wearing a mask.
Wear a mask— JJJ (@jarenjacksonjr) July 7, 2020
As our lawmakers, media, and even professional athletes vocalized, wear a mask when going out in public. It doesn’t matter if it’s even for a short trip to the grocery store. It’s still important to do your part of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Wearing one may not make you feel like a superhero such as Mike Conley in the 2015 playoffs. The decision to wear one though could save someone’s life, and that is a heroic act in itself.
Do your part, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. We’re going to get through this.