As we wait to see who the Predators will be matched up with in round two, I felt like it would be good to write an article that sort of changed things up, because I’ve been anxious about who we’re going to play and just to get our team back out on the ice and enjoy some more playoff hockey. It seems like a good time to give a shout-out to another Tennessee team who is having some surprising success in the postseason.
We are living in the most exciting time to be a fan of professional sports teams in Tennessee. Not only have our beloved Nashville Predators finally
advanced to the second round for the first time in team history, but last week the Memphis Grizzlies professional basketball team won its first playoff game in team history, and sits with a 3-1 lead over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, despite being an eighth seed who many gave little chance to take down the mighty Spurs.
I never dreamed I would say what was just in that paragraph above. Every year I have hoped for it, but ultimately the grim reality of Tennessee not being a great place for professional sports success would set in. The highlight of Tennessee’s professional sports history? Probably the “Music City Miracle,” or perhaps when the Titans came up one yard short of forcing overtime in the Super Bowl (although the Predators gave them a run for their money with that amazing game five).
So there’s not a lot history here to go on. We aren’t Boston, New York, LA, Philadelphia, etc. We aren’t in a large market, and haven’t had teams for very long. But our fans are passionate—for every sport. People mocked the Predators coming to Nashville and claimed that Tennessee couldn’t support a hockey team, and that nothing could compare to football and its traditions in the south. Memphis went through the same thing when acquiring the Grizzlies from Vancouver roughly ten years ago.
But you know what, they were all wrong. Watching all three of the home games that the Predators played in round one, it was obvious that a normally loud arena stepped up their game for the playoffs. Every game was deafening—even just watching on TV. Our crowd stood toe-to-toe with some of the best hockey crowds out there. Similarly, the Memphis Grizzlies crowds have been ridiculously awesome in this year’s playoffs. Despite being pegged as a franchise that struggles financially and has had some trouble selling tickets in years past, the Grizzlies have had good crowds for most of the year, and if you watched either game three or four of their series with the Spurs, you know that place was rocking. It was the loudest I’ve heard an NBA crowd (on TV) since the Golden State Warriors playoff run of 2008 (also an 8th seed upsetting a 1 seed).
Also, is it just me, or is there something about Tennessee and epic beards? Of course, we all know Shea Weber’s beard (and, of course, my beard), but check out the beard on Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. That’s just epic. Gotta love Tennessee playoff time and the awesome playoff beards that come with it.
One Epic Beard for Memphis
And another for Smashville
We are in the best time to be a fan of Tennessee professional sports (well, except for the Titans, but they aren’t playing now anyway—and probably won’t even have a season next year). The Predators are playing lights-out and have moved on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (and they are playing extremely well and will match up well with either of their potential foes) and the Grizzlies have come out of nowhere to send the four-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on the brink of elimination from the playoffs.
Obviously, most of the people who will read this either don’t watch NBA basketball regularly or don’t really care about it at all to begin with. My only message is that it’s really cool that two of our Tennessee teams are stepping it up and silencing the doubters together at the same time. I would love to throw in a link to a Bloguin Memphis Grizzlies blog, but alas, there is not one.
Soon we will find out who the Predators will play next. Until then, check out the Memphis Grizzlies and give them some love for basically being to basketball what the Predators are to hockey—a tough, hard-nosed team who goes out and proves the world wrong and wins when seemingly nobody thought they could win. You can check out the Grizzlies game five against San Antonio (when they will have a chance to eliminate the Spurs) tomorrow night.