The scene opens and we are in the year 2008 (or 1 AP as in After-Pau). It is a dark time in the evolution of the Grizzlies. Seemingly huddled in caves and around camp fires, the men appear weak. Enemies easily defeat the hapless Grizzlies and it appears that extinction (or relocation) is the most likely outcome.
Suddenly there appears a huge monolith. It raises suspicion and fear among the group. Slowly they approach it in an attempt to comprehend its power. They call the monolith…Kwame Brown.
The monolith is gone almost as quickly as it arrived but it leaves behind a gift that seems inconsequential and unimportant at the time but contains the potential for great advancement.
And so begins a new chapter in Grizzlies evolution.
Fast forward three years to 2011. The Grizzlies are taking off into unchartered space, far above the normal teams in the NBA, and trying to reach a new, previously unimagined level of development for the franchise.
Rudy Gay is being called the closest thing to Dr. J since the Doctor himself. The two-time slam dunk champion is averaging over 25 points per game combining a sweet outside jump shot with the ability to leap over any two players in the league for a posterizing finish.
Mike Conley, the fastest point guard in the league and one of the most improved three point shooters as well, has taken control of the assist lead with his drives into the lane only to hit the open man for an easy shot or flipping the ball in the basket himself.
Darko Milicic, finally shaking the reputation as the biggest bust of a #2 pick in history, is consistently getting double figures in rebounds and points while closing down the lane with his ability to block shots. Hakim Warrick, still coming off the bench, is the most feared scoring 6th man in the league averaging almost 15 ppg in that role.
What has really excited the Memphis faithful, who now flock to the FedEx Forum for every game, has been the development of the young players Memphis acquired in the trade of Gasol.
While their future development has yet to be determined, the young guns provide flair and speed off the bench when the starters must rest. The free agent signings have fit in perfectly with Iavaroni’s goal for the team.
Is this science fiction?
Definitely but it is also a possible glimpse of the future.
Whatever people can imagine, can happen. It is not a guarantee that the Memphis Grizzlies will disappear from the city as some have predicted. Teams have turned around seemingly moribund situations before.
Memphis has been given something that most of their competitors don't have, flexibility. They can choose to spend their free money or not, they can trade draft picks for players or use those picks to get players that will better fit into Marc Iavaroni's vision of this team. Chris Wallace’s tenures as GM in Boston and Memphis have given critics more than their fair share of reasons to be pessimistic. Yet few have argued the man doesn't know what players need to be successful in the NBA.
So for now the monolith is here. The opportunity to be an elite team has been given. The team has to make the correct moves to be the next New Orleans Hornets and not the perennially underachieving Atlanta Hawks. It won't be easy but nothing worth achieving ever is.
Wouldn't it be funny if one day Bill Simmons talked about the Grizzlies and said: "My God, they're full of stars!"