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May 14, 2011

Game 6: Post-Mortem

The team that never quit, from the city that still believes, the Grizzlies are headed back to Oklahoma City to face the final game of series to decide who will advance.

This has been one heck of a ride for the Grizzlies faithful. I don't think I'll have a hard time remembering this year of my life either. Not only did I get to travel home to Memphis and be with my grandmothers and mom on Mother's Day, but I got to be there for 4 Overtime periods through Games 3 and 4 at the FedEx Forum!

It all started on May Day, which happened to also be my 30th birthday. Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals between the Grizzlies and Thunder, and I got to spend it celebrating with ice cream cake and my homemade dandelion wine (which I had bottled the year before). The Grizzlies are the lowest seed of the playoffs, even though they were in a three-way tie just a week before the season ended. They jockeyed for position but ended up in a favorable match against the elderly Spurs team. So, because of that seeding they had to play game 1 on the road in Oklahoma City, and they close the critical elimination Game 7 there as well.

If you're reading this you already know how my birthday went. The series opened with an unlikely win. Can the Grizzlies steal another road win to finish off the Thunder?

I said it many times after Game 3, a game that the Thunder wanted to win in order to take back home court advantage due to the loss in Game 1, the monumental come from behind victory was just short of a miracle. I felt like I had seen a miracle. The emotions from expecting the superior team to take care of business, to seeing the underdog come clawing back, are what make following this team so special.

Yes, the Thunder were supposed to win Game 6 last night. Yes, of course they will be heavy favorites again for Game 7. But they were supposed to win Game 1 too and look what happened. Despite the 3OT loss and then the beatdown in Oklahoma City, the Grizz came back on a Friday night and Took Care of Business! The Grizzlies nation has one thing in common: HOPE. Talent and hope is what you need to reach your goals. We know we got talented players. I think the most disappointing and regrettable aspect of the previous seasons was not the lack of talent but the lack of hope, grit, and grind.

Now let me try to briefly discuss some of the other surrounding context on this May Grizzlies Playoff extravaganza. We already have Memphis on the front of the Wall Street Journal and 24x7 on the CNN News as I flew home Tuesday May 10th. This is due to the worst flooding of the Mississippi since 1937. What people have already forgotten is that on April 27th the Midsouth experienced deadly tornadoes that already wrought devastation and death throughout the area. The venue for the International Memphis in May BBQ Fest is currently under water. President Barrack Obama is/was in Memphis to honor the Booker T Washington High School for their "Race to the Top" selection.

I know he's a basketball fan; I wonder if he was there?

I don't want to use the flooding and the storms as a excuse for why Memphis is getting a break. That's ridiculous. We certainly wouldn't have lost Game 4 after three overtimes if somehow the Thunder or the referees were conspiring to allow the Grizzlies to keep playing because we deserve it somehow. We deserved this long before any of this happened. Memphis has been hated by the media and laughed at so many times. The organization was crucified for trading away Pau Gasol to the Lakers. Looking back, that deal wasn't bad at all, and has been imitated at least 3 times since then! (Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Gilbert Arenas were all traded for "nothing")

Memphis has been a laughing stock. And let's face it - we were short changed by Calipari and the University of Memphis Tigers. We got our money's worth from the amazing C-USA runs and the incredible NCAA Final Four of 2008, but there weren't the miracles we've been seeing from the Grizzlies this year. When you have the future youngest MVP in the league ever on your team (Derrick Rose) you would expect to do some serious damage, especially being surrounded by 2 current NBA players and 2 other guys that almost made it.

This is why I really love the Grizzlies players. Because they were on Memphis they were forgotten. Even though Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Shane Battier were top lottery picks, the nationwide audience largely had forgotten them. Battier not so much, he does command a lot of respect, but his style of game doesn't translate into flashy commercial endorsements in the way that a young Brandon Jennings does. I like the Grizzlies because they are humble and they do their job because they are professionals, not because it is fun or because a bunch of drug dealers in Miami are betting on their games, but because it's in their DNA. They put in the extra effort because it's their passion.

Next post, going in depth about the players...

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