Morant, Grizzlies Not Interested in Waiting Their Turn


The NBA regular season is long.

It begins in October and lasts all the way to April. There are parts of the season that fly by when your favorite team is on a hot streak and dominating. There are other times when the games can’t go by fast enough, when your team couldn’t hit water if they fell off the Cancha Del Mar.

Put them all together, and you get seven months of the most elite basketball in the world.

But every part of those seven months — the hot and cold streaks, injuries, awards races and snubs — ultimately lead to the final push that is the NBA playoffs. No matter how the first 82 games of the season have gone, the only thing that matters is if you can win four more.

That is the position the young Memphis Grizzlies find themselves in. After an amazing and unexpected run to the second-overall record in the league, everyone is 0-0. There is no cushion and no lead; there is only the next game.

All of this makes some Grizzlies fans understandably nervous. In a season that began with very few expectations — just making the top six in the West would’ve been considered a success — Grizz fans have been treated to a wild ride. Memphis transformed from a middling young team to a contender. Numerous players like Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones and Steven Adams became elite in their roles. They have broken records left and right.

And in the middle of it all, Ja Morant became the type of superstar that has never been seen in a Grizzlies’ uniform. Most Grizzlies fans saw that part coming, even if not in the way it did.

But to see it actually happen was a transcendent experience.

Morant himself was a wholly unique experience, seemingly defying gravity night in and night out, to the point he was receiving MVP chants on the road. Grizz fans watched as their treasured star became the world’s newest superstar, and they relished the moment.

That experience created surprising new expectations. Suddenly, being a top-six seed became the minimum goal, with the team’s sights set on home-court advantage. Soon after, the second seed — not only in the West, but overall — was within reach. Finally, the team ended up here, where winning a first-round series would now just seem like taking care of business.

All of this, paired with a matchup against an admittedly tough Minnesota Timberwolves team, has fans a little on edge. They know it should really just be house money. But that’s not the feeling with this team– not anymore. The feeling is that this squad is special, and while most fans would say that this team’s window is still down the road, there is a temptation to believe that its time just might be now.

So, Grizzlies fans, with the playoffs here and the season on the line, a word of advice: keep enjoying the ride. Sure, this team is still young and inexperienced, and its prime is yet to come. But that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that this young team has blossomed into a brazen, gritty squad made up of “a bunch of hoopers” that back down from no one. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the Timberwolves, Warriors or Suns, they are showing up to win.

They’ve embraced the blue-collar, never-back-down mentality of Memphis, and now it is fans’ turn to embrace that back. The matchups may be tough, and the experts may count them out, but Grizz Nation will be here for all the smoke. These Grizzlies have defied expectations going on three years now, and they have no intention of stopping now.

So believe, Memphis. It’s time to go all-in, to forget about expectations, predictions and timelines. This team is the Greatest Show on Hardwood. Let’s enjoy the ride.

About Nathan Qualls

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