It was just last year that the Memphis Grizzlies tilted against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I compared this to an old style match between the Seattle Supersonics versus the Vancouver Grizzlies. This series in 2011 was an epic battle between two foregone teams. And the Grizzlies are back with virtually the same team that went to the conference semifinals last year. Playing a team with virtually the same putrid history of basketball irrelevance – the Los Angeles Clippers.
Led by Z-Bo (Zach Randolph) and Rudy Gay (with assists from O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley), the Grizzlies are poised again to reach the Conference Finals. And while a lot of writers believed that this team was horrible (remember how most everyone thought that the Gasol trade to the Lakers was so one-sided that Memphis’ General Manager was supposed to resign?), the Grizzlies are again one of the powers in the Western Conference.
These days are a lot different than Vancouver’s early days. No playoff appearances, an average of 19 wins a year for six years, no-shows in the stands. Bryant Reeves couldn’t do anything about the team, and neither could Brian Hill. Despite Abdur-Rahim and Mike Bibby being on the team in the last year in Vancouver – 2000-2001 – the team could only muster 23 wins and promptly moved to Memphis the following year.
Here they are now, one of the darlings of the NBA. Similar to the Bad New Bears. An almost lovable team. And they are now one of the favorites to represent the Western Conference against the Heat (er, I mean the representative from the Eastern Conference)
Even Gilbert Arenas and his special brand of crazy can’t stop the Grizzlies train. And that’s saying something.