Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies’ New Tune Defies Media Skeptics

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Do me a favor, go Google “Aretha Franklin”. Like seriously, for real, do it and come back! *Craig from Friday voice*

You’re gonna see some key words.

More than likely, a few of those words were a combo of SUPERSTAR, MEMPHIS, and RESPECT.

How fitting that an eventual Queen of Soul would be born in a small town along the banks of the Mississippi River, where another generational talent now resides an attempts to buck — Memphis slang pun intended — the national narrative.

Just like Aretha, Ja Morant, and the Memphis Grizzlies had been supplying hit after hit to generations of Grizz fans this NBA season before a global pandemic stopped everything.

Going into the 2019-20 season expectations for a hit record (yep, there’s a theme here) weren’t exactly high, especially after starting 0-2, but then came “The Block”!

After that smash, this particular group seemed to decide to play the Beale Street Blues might be precisely the tune needed for success. Just imagine the Showtime Lakers playing with a soundtrack of vintage Soulsville and dash of vintage Mo-town.

In case you’re late to the listening party, what I’m trying to say is: Welcome to ShowTown!

The RECORD COMPANY

Grizzlies record (32-33)

After not bringing the band back together (i.e., Core 4, Chris Wallace, JB Bickerstaff), a flurry of moves from a revamped front office set the early tone.

Gone were the dreams of a swan song duet by The Conductor & Big Spain. Instead, they were replaced with a bundle of top-notch trades, picks, and good contracts. 

Hello JV and cap space!

Throw in the basketball gods sending a gift in the form of a ping pong ball, and you’ve got Zach Kleiman and Tayshaun Prince feelin real good about this new ShoTown sound!

 

Memphis FRONTMAN

Yeah, mane…Ja Morant Cold!

Every successful group has a leader who shines on the stage, but to be a legendary collective, you gotta have that one member who transcends the genre and puts you on that national stage.

Morant is that guy.

As a rookie, this 20-year-old is leading his team in points (17.6) and assists (6.9) per game. All while playing better than advertised defense and having Iverson circa ’97 levels of nastiness on the court.

“The Block” mentioned earlier was, of course, about the game-saving block on the Nets Kyrie Irving that led to the Grizz’s first win of the season. 

Now thirty-one wins later, Ja’s ROY campaign has settled in nicely at the top of the charts with a playoff berth all but cementing that number one spot.

The BIG BAND

 

Every group needs a little bass in its voice, and lucky for the boys in Beale St. blue, they got three guys who bring it in the frontcourt.

When healthy, no other big-man unit in the west compliments each other like Jaren Jackson Jr. (17.2 ppg), Jonas Valanciunas (11.2 rebs), and Brandon Clarke (.654 FG %). 

Throw in the fact that JJJ is arguably the best three-point shooter on the team firing at a 40 percent clip on six attempts a game, Clarke’s layup package being on 99, and JV being a double-double machine not seen since the likes of 2011 Zbo, then it’s evident these aren’t your typical background players heading to Orlando.

The Memphis MANAGER

Most manager/group relations can be contentious. But when it comes to the man responsible for putting all the pieces together in harmony, 1st year head coach Taylor Jenkins has had everyone on key.

Whether it’s turning the reigns over to a 20-year-old or handling a salty veteran trying to make his way out of town, Jenkins has been consistent every step of the way.

Consider this: many mainstream publications had the Grizz winning between 24 to 31 games. Now their manager has them in the driver’s seat for a possible Playoff Tour

Not bad for a rookie!

#8 ON THE CHARTS

I know what you’re thinking, “Another Memphis Grizzlies article about not getting respect.”

Well, guess what? You’re right! 

However, this one feels a tad different to me. Instead of writing this with the usual — Grit Grind don’t get love, why don’t Stephen A. ever pick us — angst, this is feeling more like a warning for anyone not paying attention in Orlando.

Because if the nation refuses to focus on this new young ShowTown sound, then eventually, a lot of them are gonna be singing the Blues

While most Grizz fans will be sangin’ that old familiar tune from a Memphis legend.

Y’all know how it goes…R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 

See what I did there?

Follow us on Twitter @Grizz_Lead for the latest Grizzlies news and insight.

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About Reggie Walker Junior

I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. After attending the University of Tennessee at Martin, I became the Sports Director at an ABC affiliate in Jackson, TN. I've covered the NBA, NFL, and also Div. 1 hoops. I'm a Grizzlies fan but I aint bias, so expect nothing but the #SportsReal from me.

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