It may be hard to believe, but there are only EIGHT, I repeat EIGHT home games left in the Grizzlies regular season. In a lot of ways, it has felt like two separate seasons because of the roster changes. As a fan, it’s been a wild ride growing with the team and the new ownership, but it’s been one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.
I had made a conscious decision before this season started to be present every time I was at a home game. Of course, anyone that has been to a game with me knows that I participate. (I might accidentally scream at the ref while you are in the middle of telling me a story that I am supposed to be listening to.) But I really wanted to try to use the home games as a kind of therapy this season. I decided that the problems, worries and stresses of my real life would not be allowed to follow me through the FedExForum doors for a game. Instead it would be all about the team, the city and the fans. Fans of small market NBA teams understand that your team’s success can change drastically from one season to the next. I realized this was most likely going to be an amazing season, and I wanted to be present and enjoy it NOW instead of realizing several years later that I took it for granted.
This has been such a fun season for me. Even the worrying is fun. If you aren’t a serious fan of a specific team, I’m sure that sounds insane. Believe it or not, it is an ADDICTION. When you follow a team and go through the ups and downs with the players and other fans, it makes you feel part of something bigger. Something that brings unity to the city. When you are in the stands, and you realize you actually have the power to influence the outcome of a professional basketball game it’s a pretty cool feeling. And if you don’t think fans make a difference or affect the outcome of a game, you haven’t been to any sporting events with really devoted fans.
Because I am such a big Grizzlies fan, I am always trying to recruit others for the cause. I eventually came up with a plan that I use to bring people over to GrizzNation. I try to get the neutral person to go to about 4-6 home games. Odds are that, in 4-6 games, something exciting or unbelievable will happen in at least one of them. Once they get to feel the adrenaline rush and excitement it usually leaves them wanting more. That’s also how long it takes the person to start recognizing some of the players and have a chance to identify with certain players personalities. (Psst! Tony Allen can recruit new fans all on his own with his personality and style of play.)
I have a little advice for those of you that have been trying to recruit someone for GrizzNation. Maybe you have a special someone who doesn’t understand your Memphis Grizzlies obsession. I actually have a lot of people tell me “I wish my ________ (girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, parent, friend, cousin, etc.) liked the Grizzlies as much as me.” As I said above, there are eight home games left this season. My advice for you is to figure out a way to get them to at least four games. All eight would be ideal, but I realize that’s not possible for everyone. If you can only get them to a few, you can still invite them out to a watch party or to your house for a game.
Am I sounding like the leader of a cult yet? Don’t worry, I won’t make you drink any Kool-Aid. I have no ulterior motive other than growing our fan base. Okay, that still sounds cult-ish but whatever.
When I meet someone who is a new Grizz fan, I see it as a positive thing. Sometimes the “bandwagon fan” label is given to newer fans. The whole notion that the Grizzlies could even HAVE bandwagon fans is exciting to me. But in my opinion a true bandwagon fan jumps on and off the wagon based on the team’s success. I think the majority of newer Grizzlies fans are in it for the long haul. Maybe they weren’t around for the 20 win seasons, but that doesn’t mean they should be punished for it. They stuck around after we lost in the first round. They stuck around when we traded our bench. They stuck around when we traded Rudy Gay and let OJ Mayo walk. In my experience, once someone becomes a TRUE Memphis Grizzlies fan, that person is usually a fan for life. And I will never complain about a Grizzlies fan who sincerely loves the team, no matter when it was that they fell in love.
I honestly believe the Memphis Grizzlies have a shot at going all the way this year. But even if they don’t, the Grizzlies still need as much support as we can give them. National sports media will not be talking about the Grizzlies. The majority of people outside of Memphis will not be talking about the Grizzlies. The Memphis Grizzlies are not media darlings, but they are still OUR team. It’s up to us, the fans, to represent for our city. I think it’s time for a grassroots GrizzNation campaign. As the Grizzlies make the final push to the playoffs, the fans should make a final push for support. That means reminding our friends and family when there is a game. That means cheering LOUD when we are at the games.
I love this team, so I don’t mind being the dorky fan who gives the pep talk. Like that commercial says “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” If we want to be cheering at a championship parade one day, we need to lay the foundation NOW. And in the words of Memphis’ own Three 6 Mafia, it’s time to let the rest of the NBA know “Who Run It.”