In the FedExForum, the apprehensive fans were biting their nails. The energy in the stands was intensified, full of excitement and bitter nerves, as the crowd screamed for their team to win. Above the backboard, the shot clock had a scant 9.09 seconds on it, mirroring the little time that was left in the 4th quarter. Down three against Oklahoma City Thunder, the Grizzlies were on their last breath against the favored team. It was clear something big had to happen for the Grizzlies. A fighting chance was all they had — and evidently all they would need.
“They’ve been limited to 83, but it might be enough. 9.09 remaining, and the Grizzlies don’t have a time out. Austin Daye tries to cross over…Bayless…A three for the tie… it’s in with 3.07! Jerryd Bayless! Ice water in his veins!”
By a fighting chance and Jerryd’s (sometimes irrational) confidence, the Grizzlies were able to go into OT with the Thunder. There the Grizzlies would continue to scratch and claw until the game ended 90-89, the final two points by a Gasol tip-in. It will always be one of the most remembered games in franchise history: a true sentiment to the Grizzlies’ Grit n’ Grind.
Jerryd Bayless is the type of player who has no fear in clutch moments like the one above. He’s the type who will score 15 points in the fourth quarter after going 0-12, the type that will always have the ball in his hands for the end-quarter shot, and the type who gives the best “WTF” faces after a ref calls a foul. Bayless’s unwavering confidence and toughness, as well as his ability to go off at any moment in a game, are some of the many reasons he’s respected.
It is also why #GrizzNation grew so fond of him.
Jerryd was one of the more emotional players on the court, and that emotional disposition can be reflected in how much he cares for the game of basketball. Whether it’s talking back to the crowd after drilling his 4th 3-pointer or yelling aloud after an alley-oop, the display of love for the game was a key ingredient in what the Grizzlies stood for – heart – and he had a lot of it.
However, Jerryd Bayless had not won over the hearts of Grizzlies’ fans just through his on-court play, but also his off-court expositions. His involvement in Memphis extended from random acts of kindness to helping struggling families through the Bayless Foundation, his new charity. Words that are often contributed to Bayless’s character are “gracious” and “a class act”. An example is from an experience that I can share personally:
A certain Grizzlies’ Promo, that some of you may remember, caught a lot of attention before the season began. It was mistakenly taken as the official promo (rightfully so, since it did have “official” in the title) when actually it was made by a fan: me. A few weeks later, I went to a Grizzlies Block Party, and Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter were there to sign autographs. As my friend and I went to ask Jerryd for a picture, he came up to me and immediately began thanking me for making the video. He was very gracious, kind, and personable, completely opposite of the hard-nosed demeanor he carries on the court. You can imagine the disbelief I was in when he not only recognized who I was but was also thanking me when I should have been thanking him!
It’s no secret Jerryd Bayless is my favorite player, so to have that happen was extremely special and meant a lot to me as a fan and as a person. This one experience only exemplifies how lucky we are as fans to have people with such great character come and represent the city of Memphis.
As Jerryd Bayless moves on with his journey out of the Bluff City and into Beantown, we as fans should give a big, fat “thank you” to one of the reasons we were able to get to the Western Conference Finals. Jerryd’s toughness, tenacity, and heart will surely be missed on the team. So thank you, Jerryd Bayless. You will always remain a huge part of the Memphis Grizzlies’ most successful season. Even if it’s not in the #Grindhouse, you’ll still be the perfect exemplification of what heart, grit, and grind truly stands for.
Fans can watch Bayless’s 2012 Top 10 plays for the Memphis Grizzlies here.
“. . .when he[Bayless] was playing for Toronto last year, I kind of was at odds with him. . . I kind of shoved him over the pick n’ roll, and he gave me this look like, ‘Psh, you can’t stick me!’. . . I was kind of gettin’ in him, and I had fouled him. I had to come out, and he gave me that look like, ‘yeah, go sit down,’ or something. . . I got to the bench, and was like, “Yo, who the heck is this dude, Jerryd Bayless? Who the heck- don’t he know I’m the GrindFather! He better know!’ So, it was just crazy because when he got here, I fell in love with him. He’s not arrogant, he’s confident.’” – Tony Allen