Monday, October 1, 2007

Nobody Loves Us and Why That is Good!

It gets old after a while but I am learning to live with it.

The constant ignoring of the Grizzlies franchise from the national media is understandable. We aren't a large media market. We don't have a star player with folklore status here in the states (although world wide he is recognized in such terms). We will probably never be the lead story on Sportscenter or even Fox Sports unless a player gets caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy to paraphrase a famous comment.

The team routinely gets ignored when talking about the NBA. Even worse, when they do talk about the Grizzlies it is usually in a negative tone.

One writer actually suggested that the Grizzlies should be disbanded since the franchise was just a talent drain on the league (thanks Bill Simmons). NBA.com did a poll this summer and the Grizzlies were voted the least likely team to surpise. An optomist could take that to mean the Grizzlies are actually the team most likely to surprise since so few people believe the team will do well this season but optomism has been in short supply around Memphis lately.

Another low point came today when uninformed writer Mitch Lawrence for the NY Daily News mentioned that the Grizzlies were so cheap an organization that the team had resorted to putting up potential free agents in team personels homes instead of hotels. The player in question (Dontell Jefferson) asked the Grizzlies to help him out when he came to town to work out in non-sanctioned scrimmages with some team players. He wasn't signed or even being pursued by the Grizzlies. He was just a former NBDL player hoping to catch on somewhere who knew new Assistant Coach David Joerger. Joerger agreed to put him up at his house.

Do you think any team would put a random ball player up in a hotel just to play around with some of the guys on their team? Could you see the Knicks putting me up in a Manhatten hotel because I wrote them and asked to play with some of the guys on their team?

Okay, the way the Knicks waste money maybe they would but San Antonio or Utah wouldn't. This is a great story about a struggling ball player trying to realize his dreams of playing in the NBA by doing whatever it took to get a chance not about a team being cheap by forcing free agents to sleep on assistant coaches couches.

And it worked! Jefferson earned a training camp invite because of the hard work ethic he displayed in those games. He impressed someone enough to continue on the path to realize his dream. The national media missed that aspect of the story while trying to insult the Grizzlies.

It doesn't help that the Grizzlies have never won a playoff game (although they have been to the playoffs more often than the Hawks, Clippers or Warriors since the team was founded). It doesn't help that the Grizzlies have the worst attendance in the NBA (although the city supports basketball better per capita than almost any other NBA city except maybe Philly).

But honestly, would it make any difference if they were 25th in the league in attendance and had won a playoff game or two? Does anyone believe the national media would care one bit if these things were different?

I don't. I don't believe that the media gives one hoot what the truth about the city, the team or it's fans. After the team won shocked everyone by winning 50 games with Coach of the Year Hubie Brown and Executive of the Year Jerry West did the Grizzlies see a dramatic increase in TV appearances? It's a dog eat dog world and the Grizzlies can't force the league to take notice.

What's more, I don't believe the team should try to change the image of a losing situation. It is hard to sneak up on teams that keep reading in the papers and seeing on ESPN how tough and exciting the franchise is.

This season the Grizzlies can surprise some teams and not having to do so under the spotlight of the national media should only help.

So keep insulting the Grizzlies. Keep leaving us off the Sportscenter highlights. Most important of all, keep thinking this is just another situation where the team is bound to fail.

We'll see who's laughing when the season is over.

7 comments:

Lee Eric said...

Chip:

You guys are quickly becoming my new favorite hangout for Grizz Talk. Over at the CA message boards, I'm the one ranting about how good this team can be, and others are kind of lukewarm. We're loaded with great young talent, and we're extremely deep.

And I will further go on record saying this, the success of our season will depend upon Darko. To clarify:

I think we'll be drastically improved regardless of how he plays.

If Darko turns out to be merely serviceable (10 ppg/7 rpg/1 bpg), we'll be in the playoff hunt.

If Darko morphs into a stud (16 ppg/11 boards/2 blocks), this season will mark the arrival of the Grizzlies as a Western Conference powerhouse.

Thanks for your optimism. I don't feel so weird any more!

Ryan Schwan said...

Oh yeah? Well people like the Hornets less than the Grizzlies. So there.

Though I will again provide my expert support in saying I think you guys will be 9th in the West this season.

zack said...

ryan...

i'm predicting all 5 SW division teams make the playoffs....

represent!!!!!

ChipC3 said...

Thanks Lee. I was a charter member of the Grizzlies Sunshine Patrol and one of the reasons I started blogging instead of posting on the Grizzlies Message board was the preponderance of negativity. People brag about how they are being real when in fact they delight in predicting the worst outcomes.

Over here I can be me and say what I believe without having to deal with those that can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

MemphisX said...

We are being really underrated. We are more talented than the 49 win team, just not as experienced. When you factor in the Damon knee injury that season, it really puts into perspective how good Pau was that season. He was even better last season under horrid circumstances. This season will be satisfying for Grizz fans.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes people or team in this case can work better being underestimated. That way, the spotlight isn't fixated on you, but on someone else. Like Bron and Wade for example. The majority of bball players were fixated on Bron most of the time and didn't think much about Wade. When Wade and the Heat won the title back in 2006. The people took notice.

Anonymous said...

In regards to ESPN coverage, if a team is not in NY, Boston, LA, and Chicago; they don't care to cover it. You could have broken some kind of record and SportsCenter will still lead with the Lakers and the latest Kobe Bryant non-story-trade rumor.