When I got started here at 3 Shades of Blue a little less than a month ago, I wondered how the fact that I wasn’t from Memphis would affect what I contributed. The bad news was that since I can’t go to the games, I have no first hand experience of what the energy at Fed Ex Forum is like, or what it’s like to watch the Grizzlies’ chemistry in person.
The good news was that I could hopefully provide something of a “national” perspective on the team. I watch the Grizzlies whenever I can, but since I don’t get NBA League Pass, and the live feeds of games online or only occasionally watchable, I don’t watch them anymore than I watch the Bulls, Heat, Thunder or any other title contender. As a result, I can get an even perspective one and hopefully a good sense of how the Grizzlies compare to those teams.
With that said, I never thought the specific fact that I come from Buffalo could increase the amount of insight I had into the team. Until last night. Along with cruel snowstorms, and chicken wings, one of the things Buffalo is best known for is losing. We’re the city that lost four straight Super Bowls, and lost a Stanley Cup on a goal that should not have counted (no one in Buffalo will ever forgive Brett Hull for that), and those are just the famous ones. we’ve had countless other epic, gut-wrenching losses. As someone with first-hand knowledge, I can tell you, what happened to the Grizzlies last night was a Buffalo-style loss if there was one.
In amusing bit of irony, it came against the Clippers, who used to play in Buffalo, back in the glory days of Bob McAdoo. The Clippers perpetual misery was always a subject of amusement for Buffalo fans. They had left our fair city, but they were cursed just as much as the Bills or Sabres were. But last night, the fortunes were reversed; the Clippers won a game in the sort of shocking, completely-out-of-nowhere style that Buffalo teams usually tend to lose games.
In recent years, I’ve heard friends of mine talk about how in the absence of an NBA franchise in Buffalo, we should adapt the Clippers as our city’s team. I suspect that has a lot to do with wanting to drool over CP3 and Blake without feeling like a bandwagon fan. After last night’s loss, however, I would like to suggest that the Grizzlies could be the adapted NBA team of my hometown. Much like the Bills and the Sabres, the Grizzlies are a franchise with a history of hard luck that preservers due to toughness and determination (okay, the Bills haven’t been like that for awhile, but they used to, I swear….). They’ve had disappointments, but that didn’t stop them from building a contending team. Much like the Sabres teams of the 90s – when they were known as The Hardest Working Team In Hockey – the Grizzlies built a competitive team despite a lack of a true superstar by relying in quality players and solid defense. Plus, you could totally make a case for the Grizzlies being The Hardest Working Team In Basketball – last night’s epic collapse notwithstanding.
But last night’s game might be the definitive example of how the grizzlies could be an honorary Buffalo team – they lost in a way that was completely unbelievable, and perhaps even unexplainable to anyone who was watching. Every Grizzlies fan felt like they had Game 1 wrapped up, only to watch it slip away faster than you could say “since when is Nick Young this good?” The Grizzlies reinvented what losing could be last night. Usually that’s the sort of thing Buffalo teams do.
In case any of the Memphis fans get the wrong idea, I’m well aware with how much the city of Memphis identifies with this team, and its underdog mentality, and I’m not trying to take away from that. I just think that perhaps my NBA-less city can identify with that, too. After all, Buffalo and Memphis both field small market teams who find ways to compete without flash, Maybe this could be the start of a friendship between the two cities. We totally dig Elvis in Buffalo, I swear. And Stax records. And Big Star, we really love Big Star. Actually, I think I’ll go listen to “September Gurls” right now, and try to get the taste of this loss out of of my mouth.