Friday, April 27, 2012

Grizzlies season in review + playoff talk with Katee Cook

Katee Cook is a die hard Grizzlies fan.  We talked about her favorite Memphis player, who'd she liked before Memphis and her Love/Hate relationship with Rudy. 

How did you started liking this thing anyway? 
I'm 27 and I grew up in the Michael Jordan era. The Bulls were every kids favorite team back then. My older brother, Trip was a big basketball fan and being the big brother, he was always the one with the remote. So I guess I have him to thank for my love of basketball. If you can't beat em' join em'!

Are you a casual or devoted fan? 
Basketball has always been my favorite sport. My devotion for basketball in general probably started on my first Girl's Club team. I think I was about 6 or 7. In the last several years devotion has turned into obsession. Don't judge me.

How did you started being a Memphis fan?
I was 16 in 2001 when the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. Aside from Jordan, the first player I "followed" seriously was Shane Battier when he was at Duke. (Yes, I am a Duke fan. Don't kill me.) So you can imagine my fan girl excitement when I found out Shane Battier was coming to Memphis. I couldn't have asked for a better scenario. I would have been a fan because I take pride in my city, but Battier was the icing on the cake.

Did you like the Vancouver Grizzlies?
The who? ;o)

I'm a Laker fan, but more of an NBA fan in general. I collect a bunch of books, magazines & Newspapers. Do you collect any Grizzlies stuff?
 I didn't know you were a Laker fan. I will still finish the interview since I gave you my word but I won't respect you. :o)  Most of my collecting didn't start until the last few years when I could afford to buy things myself. I have a signed Rudy Gay coach's binder, a signed Tony Allen coach's binder, my growl towels from last season's playoff run, and I just got a signed OJ Mayo jersey for my birthday!

On many forums, I've read people complaining about Rudy Gay, they say Memphis is better by trading him and getting the ball down low to Zack and Marc. How do you feel about that? 
Rudy Gay is a sore subject and one that Memphis fans seem to disagree the most about. I was disappointed in Rudy's return this season for several games. There was the infamous 1 point game. I was at the forum for that. All of the Grizzlies got booed that night but people were especially furious with Rudy. While I don't believe he always play to the VERY high salary the Grizzlies pay him, I think he has grown up over this season. At least I hope. He also is the only Grizzlies player to score over 30 this season. I want to see how he does in the playoffs before I give you my final verdict on Rudy.

When Memphis signed Conley to a $45 million extension over five years, one famous NBA writer was in a rage, do you think Memphis fan appreciate Conley's play more than ever? 
Until recently I think most Memphis fans didn't trust Mike Conley. Memphis fans have been burned so many times that we tend to always be watching our backs. This season the fans have embraced Conley as a part of Grizz Nation. I still wouldn't call him the leader of the team, but I think we feel like he has proven himself to be a player that has come a long way. Memphis respects that.

Thoughts on Arenas?
I ordered a custom Arenas shirt within the week he came to Memphis. It's safe to say I am in love with the addition. A lot of people remember his less than perfect past and forget how incredible he was pre-gun problems. Memphis has become the place an NBA player can get a second chance and I am proud of that. The fans here will support you for working hard. We just want a guy that plays well and gives heart, grit and grind every game. Arenas definitely meets those requirements.

Which was the biggest moment of the season?  
The biggest moment thus far was just a few hours ago. Memphis beating the Orlando Magic and clinching the 4th seed and home court for the first time in franchise history! The energy in the forum was electric. It ended with fans chanting "Beat LA! Beat LA!"

Every true Grizz fan will answer this the same way. Zach Randolph's knee injury on January 1, 2012 was by far our lowest point of the season. With Rudy Gay being out last season, the fans had so much hope coming into this one with most of our players healthy. (With the exception of Darrell Arthur who sadly was injured right before the shortened season began.) A hush fell over Memphis that day knowing we might have just lost our entire season. But the Grizzlies are not a quit and run team. They fought hard all season to get us back to the playoffs. No one could have dreamed it would be as a 4th seed with home court advantage. It's a testament to the grit and grind of this team and this city.

Last year Memphis almost traded OJ Mayo for Josh Mcroberts, this season Mayo was almost traded to Boston. Why do you think Memphis is always trying to get rid of him?  
My thoughts exactly! ha ha! In all seriousness though, O.J. Mayo has always been a fan favorite. However he was not always a favorite of everyone inside the Grizzlies organization. This is his contract year and I think the Grizzlies wanted to try and get something for him before he was a free man. He has been playing excellent coming off the bench the last few months and I think he will be clutch in the playoffs. I hope he's still in Memphis next season but salary disagreements may keep that from happening.

Most overrated Memphis player?
People call me a Rudy Gay hater but I cannot tell a lie - (in my opinion) it's Rudy Gay. I am NOT saying he isn't incredibly talented or that he hasn't been one of the best Memphis has ever seen. I'm simply saying his game doesn't always live up to his hype. He didn't step up in the same way Zach did as a leader this season. You will have a hard time convincing me he leaves everything out on the court every game. As a side note, he doesn't seem to connect with the fans the same way the rest of the team does. Maybe he's shy, I don't really know. But again, he's got a lot of talent but he doesn't always play at a superstar level. I believe he can be a superstar so that's why I am slightly underwhelmed with him. Let the stoning from Memphis fans begin.

The most underrated player this season has to be Dante Cunningham. In Memphis we love him but he deserves more national recognition. He has been clutch for the Grizzlies in more than one game. He never gives up on a play. He dives for the ball. He plays smart basketball. Dante plays his role well and he stays humble. In Memphis that kind of guy is a dream player. Watch for him in the playoffs. If you don't know who Dante Cunningham is now, you will soon.

How do you feel about Memphis' chances against the Clippers in the first round? 
After last years playoff run, Memphis will be the Clippers worst nightmare. We don't flop in Memphis and we don't respect teams that do. It just means you can't play defense. Blake Griffin is hated here and won't find many friends. His intimidation tactics won't work against any of our players. Warning: Kia's in Memphis should not be left unattended during round 1. 

Who do you think will be the most important player against the Clippers? 
It's hard to pick just one because the Grizzlies play a team game, especially this season. They have all had to rely on each other though injuries and tough stretches. If pressed, I guess I'd say OJ Mayo. He always plays so hard. But then again, Tony Allen is my favorite player and I have never seen a player hustle harder than him. See, I told you it's hard to pick one! Like we say in Memphis "1 team! 1 goal!"

Any predictions? 
My round 1 prediction is that the Grizzlies will win in 6 games.

If Grizzlies don't win it all, who'd you feel is going to hold the trophy?
I think you picked me for this interview because I am a Memphis Grizzlies super fan. A good super man never gives a "what if" prediction against their team. Losing isn't a possibility in my mind.

Katee Cook also has a Grizzlies podcast called "Grizzcast" follow her on twitter at @KateeForbis .  I could interview Katee forever and i hope to have her again soon. 

Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyNBA and Like us on Facebook.

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