For over nine years, Grizzly Bear Blues has been my Memphis Grizzlies home. My place where I could connect my passion for sports with a city that I fell in love with over a decade ago - and where I fully fell in love with the love of my life. As the years turned, it remained the constant in a world where my personal and professional life was constantly changing, evolving. My longest held job. My greatest professional investment. My grandest labor of love.
The word “love” is used a lot above. And no, this last time writing as Site Manager of Grizzly Bear Blues, I will not look for synonyms or try to adjust meaning. Because sitting here, with a tear in my eye and a grateful heart, love is what I continue to come back to.
It’s a love for the city of Memphis that I will begin with, and a feeling of gratitude for a place that I never - not once - thought I would ever live in before the spring of 2011. Life is funny in that way. Your plans are nothing more than a forecast of the unpredictable gusts and fronts that make up the direction of your days. I didn’t plan on moving to Memphis, and didn’t know when I made the leap to go there how transformative it would be.
But I didn’t just move to Memphis. Memphis moved me. It inspired and enveloped me. I close my eyes and still see the lights, smell the food, hear the blues music bellowing down Beale Street on Tuesday mornings and Saturday nights. As clear as the shine from my laptop screen I can bask in the glow from my mind’s eye of the balcony of Alfred’s or the oyster bar of Silky’s after a win at FedExForum, or the sun from Shelby Farms on the pond pedaling around and enjoying a beautiful spring day. Even more than the places are the people - friends that made it home a thousand miles from home. One in particular who remains my best friend to this day. I talk to him almost daily. Our kids met for the first time this year, and were like “peas and carrots” almost right away. Just like us.
None of that happens without Memphis.
The Grizzlies, over the span of the last decade or so, have become synonymous with Memphis in many ways. And the impact that the franchise has had on my goes hand in hand with that of the city. From my first game in 2011 to now, the team’s identity being interwoven with that Memphis has only become more stitched in to the fibers that bind me to this site and the Bluff City. That’s because of those that rocked the blue of Beale Street while I’ve been around. Some examples - Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, JaMychal Green, Rudy Gay, Dante Cunningham, Ed Davis, O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Tyreke Evans, Nick Calathes, Hamed Hadaddi, Quincy Pondexter, Marreese Speights, Darrell Arthur, Courtney Lee, Kosta Koufos, Beno Udrih, Jon Leuer, Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Brandon Clarke, Kyle Anderson, Steven Adams, and of course many others...
Even Jeff Green and Chandler Parsons.
But not Jae Crowder.
OK fine...even Jae Crowder.
Them and all of the others, as well as coaches and front offices, have been written about or podcasted about by me between 2013 when I became a member of GBB and now. Trade pieces and game coverage, features and any other type of writing possible about the Memphis Grizzlies. Over 1,800 pieces of content spread from me across that period of time have been an investment of myself, never about the money or the attention. Always about feeling connected to Memphis, and their Grizzlies, and even as I went away I held on to that thread that kept me home. Perhaps too long. Five years with a Site Manager who doesn’t live in the city bring with it a ceiling to growth. But I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to this community that has helped shape me far more than I have shaped it.
Now, I am ready to move on. But not from Memphis, or their Grizzlies. GBB specifically. It’s time to let go of something I truly love, so it can be better than it has ever been.
To all those that have read or listened to my work - whether you agreed with me or disagreed. Thank you so much. Your views and your listens and your feedback have helped me grow both as a content creator and as a person. I’ve had to develop thicker skin, and learn that not everyone will love what I do or who I am. I can’t do things for others. I must do them first and foremost because I believe in them. Hopefully others will see the good in them too, and more often than not I believe that’s been the case. I don’t know where I go next. Whether I keep writing elsewhere or this is truly it. But I know I have given my absolute best. If this is it, I am at peace with that. I know I can do this at a high level, and I go out doing what I believe what was my best work over the last month.
To those that have made my journey here so special that are outside of GBB - there are too many of you to name, but know that you all hold a place in my heart. From various watch party chats with Anthony Sain or Peter Edmiston to numerous radio appearances with Gary Parrish or Greg Gaston, a rare TV outing with a face made for radio thanks to Jess Benson or simply talking with some of the very best that cover this team - Jon Roser, Chris Herrington, Geoff Calkins, Drew Hill, Evan Barnes, Damichael Cole, Matt Moore, Sharon Brown, Aimee Stiegemeyer...the list goes on and on and on. Please don’t take offense if not mentioned here. Know you made my life fuller and my experience more joyful for all the opportunities you provided me.
To GBBers old and young...there’s definitely too many of you to name as well. But from Tom Lorenzo and Kevin Lipe to Chris Faulkner, Parker Fleming and Brandon Abraham and literally everyone inbetween like Mark King, and the big boss man himself Seth Pollack, I take a little bit of each of you with me wherever I head next. I learned from disagreements and personality clashes. I learned from brilliant basketball minds far more formed than mine. I saw what was possible when a group of people all loved the same thing and wanted to make it better by being heard. We took a site that was competing with multiple other fan blogs and became the absolute best free option for Grizzlies content when it comes to combining quality with quantity of Memphis coverage.
No one covers the Memphis Grizzlies organization top to bottom as well as us. I take pride in saying that confidently, knowing it is true, and that Grizzly Bear Blues is better now than it was all those years ago. But now it is time for the next generation to take it another step further.
And last but most certainly not least...to the person who made all this possible.
That picture is over a decade old now. It was taken from the top of The Peabody Hotel, at a rooftop party in late June of 2011. It was our first night out in our new town, just me and my girlfriend, in a place neither of us knew. It’s truly somewhere only we, as we now reside back in Virginia (our home state) know. We had visitors during our time there in Memphis, of course, but the day to day in postage stamp apartments while working and living in a city that six months prior we didn’t think about much less know, living with people in each other that the year before that picture was taken neither of us knew existed...it made Memphis a time in our lives that would either meld us together or send us our separate ways rather quickly.
I proposed to Meredith next to the Mississippi River about 18 months later after that picture was taken, where we lived on Mud Island. I asked her to be my wife alone - just me and her. No photographers or well wishers. Because the choice we made to go to Memphis together was ours. No one elses. So many had to think we were wrong. Crazy to go. But not only did I find a second home, a new favorite team, and a place to express my love for both. I found my forever date, and the mother of my three children.
I had her before Memphis. But we found each other there. And she’s with me now, as our love we fully formed in Memphis has grown.
I am not sure what I have done to deserve all the good that has happened in my life. But as I reflect back on my time at Grizzly Bear Blues - a chapter of my time on this earth that ends today - I realize that if you’ve read my work over this almost decade you already know me pretty well. Perhaps too well. I’ve shared that engagement story here before - as well as other nights in Memphis, conversations with my grandfathers, times with my parents and kids. I wrote a letter to my unborn Grizzlies fan (the big one above), and I have spoken of the joy all of these people have brought me. GBB hasn’t just been a basketball blog for me - it has been a snapshot of where I was at that given moment in my growth as a person and as a man. A journal, in a way - a space where I could be myself, for better or worse, and could not just engage with a game and team I was so passionate about but also better find my own way through the ebbs and flows of becoming a husband, a father, and more.
The years have been hard at times. Not all of the individual sections of the story have had happy endings. That’s life, as you likely know. But this part of my journey, here with you all at GBB, has been one of the very best. Because as a staff, or as a larger community, we’ve become a place where people can feel free to access the Memphis Grizzlies in ways they couldn’t before. We’ve become more reflective of the Memphis fan base, and we’ve grown our presence within the organization and beyond more than I could have ever dreamed. I’ve covered playoff games, interviewed professional basketball players, and attended NBA-altering press conferences. I have spoken with the very best that write about and speak on the game of basketball. I have walked Beale Street at 2 AM after a game, looking at the lights and the stars, wondering what I did to be in that moment doing something that I loved so much.
Again, love. I leave GBB with love.
I’ve found that Beale Street feeling on my back porch, by the way - watching my children on a play set at the home I share with them and my wife. My one year old son sits on my lap, laughing at me, pulling off my glasses. The sun glistens on the morning dew, my coffee steaming, the kids asking for me to push them on the swing. I hand my baby boy to the girl I moved to Memphis with, now my bride of over 8 years, and head to do my daddy duty. As my daughters laugh, the eldest says “this is the best day of my life!”, as she does almost daily it seems regardless of how true it is, and the young one says “I want to do this forever”.
Me too. But nothing lasts forever.
Except, perhaps, for love.
And being the luckiest.