Many people may think that the people of Memphis don't care about the Memphis Grizzlies. As a matter of fact for the most part they are correct in their assumption. Most people in Memphis probably couldn't even tell you 3 players names in on the team except for OJ Mayo and maybe Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. That doesn't mean that the city doesn't care about basketball. This city is passionate about basketball. The thing is that the Grizzlies are treated like second class citizens in Memphis. But when the Memphis Tigers come through they roll out the red carpet for that team. And to be honest with you it is well deserved. In the past 4 years there has arguably been no team that has been consistently as great as the college basketball team. While the Grizzlies have never experienced the same success in the city of Memphis. When Derrick Rose played for Memphis he captured our hearts with his hard play. As a fan of the Memphis Tigers and a Memphis raised boy I proud to say that Derrick Rose attended the University of Memphis. At the same time when basketball season came around as a Memphis Grizzlies fan I would watch their games and I came to see that OJ Mayo was having a great rookie season at the same time as Rose but, not too many of my friends in Memphis cared. They said that he plays for the Memphis Garbage. But, what I think they failed to realize is how important this team is to the city and to the Memphis Tigers.
The Memphis Tigers had great success under Calipari. He brought us some of the top recruits from High School every year. But, one thing that worked to his advantage when he was recruiting over schools like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas. Was that Memphis was a city with an NBA team. They played in the Fed-Ex forum which is also the homecourt of the Grizzlies. The players always got to play in front of NBA players, execs, scouts, and even team owners. Since, Calipari has left the school and took that great recruiting class with him the Tigers are more than likely going to take a major hit this year. Josh Pastner was a great hire and he was able to get Latavious Williams who is one of the top recruits in the nation. But, rumor has it that he is de-commiting from Memphis to play in China.(I don't know if this is true just to let you know.) If the team has a losing season the ticket sales may suffer. The Tigers have already lost alot of season ticket holders. This could cost the Fed-Ex forum owners alot of money.
Now with the city of Memphis. I no longer live in the city I live in Baltimore, Maryland. But, I love my hometown and Memphis blood will always run through my veins. But, the city is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the United States. I never realized how bad it was there until I moved out of the city. The city is also the 9th or 10th poorest city in the United States. The city has a poor economy and there aren't many huge businesses that come to Memphis. The most attractive part of Memphis is Beale Street. Another attraction in the city is the Fed-Ex forum which is the Memphis Grizzlies' homecourt. The city of Memphis makes alot of money off of the Fed-Ex forum. And, with the Memphis Tigers' season holders are now canceling their season tickets because, the Tigers may have a losing season. It is also important that the Grizzlies have a good season to recoup some of the losses for the city.
A team that is in a similar position as the Grizzlies are the Los Angeles Clippers. They are treated like crap in comparison to the Los Angeles Lakers. That franchise is everything that a great franchise should be. I also hate that team with a strong passion by the way. But, unlike the Clippers the Grizzlies can capture the hearts of people in Memphis with a playoff berth and a great playoff series. And, from what I've been seeing in the Grizzlies organization they see that some of the Memphis Tigers lost fanbase is up for grabs.
I know that what I said in that last paragraph is alot to ask for from the Grizzlies in less than a year. But, truth be told this has to happen in order for them to be successful. I'm not saying that they have to win a NBA championship next season even though that would be great but, I think that all it takes is one great playoff series. Just imagine for example if they took a great team like the Lakers with Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom(if he comes back), Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum to the brink of elimination with a seven game series. All of a sudden they would go from being the laughing stock of the league to the NBA's cinderella story. With that they could sell-out the Fed-Ex Forum and gain a fanbase in Memphis.
With this team being so young it has alot of young talent and to budding superstars in Rudy Gay and the team's future leader OJ Mayo(if he stays). With them adding a guy like Zach Randolph who is thought of to be a toxic presence in a locker room. I don't know if it is true but if it is then he will ruin that that team. The average age of the team is 24.1 which is second youngest to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Most of these guys don't have leadership skills to stand up to a guy like Zach Randolph if he is that toxic. He may even ruin some of their careers and steer them down the wrong path if the rumors are true.
But I'm going to be optimistic and say that they are just rumors. The organization is rolling the dice though with a guy like him and I guess they believe that they are ready to start winning alot of games. But, that trade to get Zach Randolph alone made us the laughing stock of the league once-again. People are now saying that they are an even worse franchise than the Clippers and Timberwolves. They are forsaken by the city of Memphis, the NBA, and some people don't even know that the team exists. Hell even guys on ESPN were laughing when Allen Iverson considered coming to Memphis.
This their chance to prove everyone wrong. To show everyone that a small Southern city like Memphis is a basketball city. To show everyone that they are serious about winning. And, to make those guys one ESPN eat their words.
But if they fail they become everything that people were saying. They will sink into even further into the abyss of the NBA and the sports world until they no longer exist.
It is up to them to decide whether or not they want to be a team that other NBA teams can't wait to play to take a night off. Or, become the team that everyone becomes afraid to play.
I think that if they play their cards right they could become the latter.
What do you think.......
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