Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Coulda Been a Contender

When I was a kid, I loved MSU Tiger basketball. That's all I had. Then we got a "pro" football team, the USFL's Memphis Showboats. My family had season tickets for the entire tenure of the team. We always arrived early, so we could watch the teams warm up and really get the full experience. But absent any other Memphis teams, I ended up with a strange group of allegiances: My Daddy had always been a Cubs fan, so my brother and I were Cubs fans. I watched a lot of NBA basketball, but found myself following players rather than teams (owing to how I'd gotten to know them through their college game). I liked Dan Marino coming out of Pitt, so I decided to follow him with the Dolphins. Then one day it happened- an NFL team came to Memphis. Most Memphians felt used, knowing the Oilers would only be in town a couple of years before moving to Nashville. I was amazed by this attitude- there was an NFL team playing in Memphis! I went to seven of the eight games played at the Liberty Bowl, before our city's apathy drove the team to Nashville a year early. But I got a taste of what it was like to have my own team, one I could claim legitimately as my "home" team, and it was everything I had hoped. I've followed faithfully, from changing the name, to coming up a yard short, to making it rain.

But still no Memphis team. Not, that is, until the Grizzlies showed up.

We threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the Grizzlies. Who cares that they suck? They have a "Memphis" in front of their team name. They're ours! One of my favorite sporting events ever was the first home playoff game in Grizzlies history. Of course we lost, but who cares? It's just our first of many trips to the playoffs, right? Jerry West has got something up his sleeve that will push us over the edge next year, right? Wrong. The Logo let us down. He let Shane leave. He picked up no one of interest. He put his house on the market, ready to leave us with a team of guys we care nothing about. But we had one last chance. One chance to change the future of this franchise for the next twenty years or so. And owing to stupid, dumb luck, we lost that chance. I can't believe that I let myself believe. That I actually imagined my team with the top pick. Imagined myself really caring about this team, the way I so desperately want to. It's a depressing day for sports fans in Memphis. If you see one, be nice. We need it.

1 comment:

Memphisotan said...

Two words: Memphis Riverkings! (or is it three?)