Thanks to Herm Edwards, we know why they play the games, but why do we, the fans, watch the games? Is it for the athleticism that is turned into artistic grace and poetry, as espoused so eloquently by Graydon Gordian (48 Minutes of Hell, Hardwood Paroxysm)? Is our attention drawn because we grew up watching, as our fathers did before us, so it has become ingrained in us? Do we watch simply to root for laundry, as Jerry Seinfeld once quipped when discussing the prevalence of player movement in the modern era? Do we watch for the purpose of gathering and calculating statistics? Is it merely a team's geographical proximity to our current location? What is it that drives us to become fans of a player, a team, a sport?
Obviously, it could be any one of those reasons or even all of them. Loyalty is developed in different ways for different people. The reason that I am currently pondering this question is because of the cynicism that the Grizzlies fanbase has adopted in recent years. Right now, on the Grizzlies' Fan Boards, there is plenty of discussion about "smokescreens" and conspiracy theories. On many well-known websites and blogs, there have been comments made about the Grizzlies' reluctance to pursue any of the big name free agents, despite their position as the last remaining team with any significant cap space, is a "detriment to the league" and is proof that they "do not intend to be competitive". All of this has been eaten up with a spoon by a large percentage of the fanbase, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.
If you truly believe that your favorite team isn't making moves to better itself in the future, with the goal of a realistic shot at a championship in the viewfinder, then why would you continue to root for that team? If financial considerations are not only the primary concern of a team, as Chris Vernon has stated, but is, in fact, their only concern, then what would motivate you to continue rooting for that team? If you truly believe that your team's owner, GM, coach, et al, have resigned themselves to losing for the forseeable future, then why would you stay on board a sinking ship?
Is Michael Heisley focusing on losing less money than he has in the past -- and possibly even making some for a change? Absolutely. Does that mean that the Grizzlies are guaranteed to flounder at the bottom of the standings? Nope. The issue I have right now is that it seems that everyone wants to lump both questions into one answer. Even if Heisley is more concerned with the bottom line than a position at the bottom of the standings once again, that doesn't mean that the Grizzlies won't get better. This isn't an either/or situation. In fact, that's something that I believe that Heisley is counting on.
If the team becomes competitive over the next few seasons through Chris Wallace's management of personnel with trades and the draft, then Heisley has a valid reason to spend money on a quality free agent that could put the team in a position to make a serious postseason run. Of course, if the team has done that with "homegrown players" like Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, etc. then they will have to sign them to extensions, which could take a big chunk of that cap space that everyone is talking about right now. If that occurs, then Heisley still has an out for not spending, since the team, which currently has 8 players under the age of 24 that are expected to contribute, could be solidly set at all 5 positions, meaning there isn't a necessity to spend money on a big name free agent. I'm not saying any of this to support Heisley's "Three Year Plan" or the practice of putting finances above wins. However, this is a reality that everyone should consider when they look deep within and ask themselves why they watch.
I watch, because the NBA = entertainment. I watch to see the best athletes in the world, night in and night out. I watch because the jersey says "Memphis" on the front of it and the team plays 20 minutes from my house. I watch because I expect great things from young players. I watch because I truly, honestly believe that this team will continue to get better, whether or not the current owner gives approval to signing a big free agent this offseason or next. I watch, because for better or for worse, I am a fan, even as I view the future of the team with a critical (but not cynical) eye.
Tell me why you watch in the Comments.