I am coming clean. It's beyond a hobby at this point. It's an addiction. Don't worry, I am not the 'hide in OJ Mayo's bushes with binoculars' type. When I say I am addicted, I mean I am addicted to the "Greatest Show On Earth" as Tony Allen calls it. (Sorry Ringling Brothers, you've been replaced.) It really is a good way to describe it because we are a bit of a circus here in Memphis. I don't mean that in a negative way at all. I love Memphis. I L-O-V-E Memphis with all of my heart. *blurry flashback wave into the past* In 2001, I was 16 years old and the idea of Memphis having an NBA team was beyond exciting for me and my teenage obsession with Shane Battier. I remember being so excited when a friend said they saw Battier at Banana Republic in Memphis. I saw Pau Gasol at Wal-mart before I even knew he was. I was behind him in line and he was not speaking English with his lady friend. The fact that he was towering over everyone was my best guess that he would play for the Grizzlies. (Little did I know I would go on to hate that man, but that's another post.) I had no idea who the Vancouver Grizzlies were but the Memphis Grizzlies sounded very promising. Anyone who knows the slightest about the NBA knows that the Grizzlies have not been a powerhouse franchise by any stretch of the imagination. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Michael Jordan era and I loved him and the Chicago Bulls. I have loved basketball since I was on my first Girls Club team at the age of 5. However, I have to admit that the Memphis Grizzlies actually turned me off to the NBA. I had already started following NCAA basketball on a much more dedicated level. I would attend Memphis Tiger games and glance at the small tv when the Grizzlies were playing and 9 times out of 10, they were losing. From 2002-2010 I was a definitely a fan but not in any sort of dedicated fashion. Call me a bandwagon fan if you want but I don't see myself that way. Some devastating things were happening in 2011 to my mother's health and the playoffs were a breath of fresh air. I was also at the place to be able to afford my own tickets and now I can proudly say I am a season ticket holder. I have since studied the Grizzlies and NBA history and I can't get enough. I can genuinely say that no matter the road ahead, I will be a Memphis Grizzlies season ticket holder, come rain or shine if I am able to afford it. Anyone that tells you watching those 20 win seasons was exciting is lying to you. It was not. It was extremely depressing and I can't count the number of times I've worried they would move the team. Despite all the losses and mediocrity through the years, the Grizzlies have done wonders for the city of Memphis. I am 27 years old now and can see the positive affects a team can have on a city. I see a bright future for this team. We are finally getting the records the dedicated fans deserve. The Memphis Grizzlies are not a media favorite by any means but they are loved by so many people in Memphis. The unfortunate closing of my local bakery resulted in my non-stop Grizz obsession and I don't see it ending. I firmly believe if you come to a Grizz game or know a dedicated fan, you will have no choice but to jump on the wagon. I don't judge what they call a "bandwagon Grizz fan" because I dream of a day when Fed-Ex Forum is packed for every game. Whether you have loved the team since the first game in 2001 or you will be attending your first game next season, I welcome you! There are not many things that bring people together in a city. Sports are something that can bring people across political, religious or racial lines TOGETHER. Sure, we can look at the fact that the NBA exists to make money, but for the fans, it's so much more. I meet people on Twitter every day who have a story of how the Grizzlies gave them hope. Whether it's someone with a devastating illness, or just a kid with big dreams, the Memphis Grizzlies have been a light in a dark world. The wonderful distraction in life I choose to indulge in is the Memphis Grizzlies and the NBA. I don't know about you but I need distractions from the "real" world. I have met friends, bonded with family and have incredible memories because of basketball and the Grizzlies. I know I am not that different from any of you and your favorite team. I may trash talk your team and I may joke about your players but I really do understand where the love comes from. Call me shallow for putting so much of my time into basketball but I will always see myself as an optimistic girl. From my teenage crush on Shane Battier to my current love of Tony Allen, it has all been a certain type of therapy for me. Is there more to life than basketball? Absolutely. Is there more to life than joy, wherever it may come from? Sure, but it's the joy that gets you through the hard times. My heart belongs to God, my husband, my family, my friends and my dog, Charlie. My wonderful distraction belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies. Until you feel the love of a sport, I honestly don't feel you can fully understand it. Your heart races, you jump up and down, you even tear up or cry after certain games. (Don't deny it, you do.) I think God may have created the "sports bug" on the 8th day to inspire and distract from the trials he knew were ahead. If God blessed you with that bug, give him a prayer of thanks. I know I do.
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