May 27, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (left) and small forward Tayshaun Prince (right) react on the bench in the second half of game four of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at FedEx Forum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations vs. reality for a Grizzlies fan

“This guy is so negative. All the articles that have been put up from him have just put me in a horrible mood”.

Good.

I expect a championship. I do every year. And I feel every red-blooded, passionate sports fan should.

Is that fair? No.

Is it realistic? No.

Does either of those things actually matter to me? No.

Basketball is about more than a bunch of overpaid athletes putting a ball in a basket for me. You find yourself starting to care about the players, the coaches, the fans. You start realizing that sports is about more than what you see on the scoreboard, and realizing it’s about the hopes of a city to grasp greatness.

It’s about rooting their team on for a slice of history. For something that won’t be forgotten. And in turn, the moments start to take on a greater meaning. They start to become defining moments in a person’s life.

For example, I don’t know if any of you happened to catch that movie Invincible. It’s based on a true story, where a bartender in Philadelphia named Vince Papale overcomes the odds to earn a spot on the Eagles.

It was the kind of movie that had one iconic moment after the next. That Hoosiers and Remember the Titans edge of your seat kind of ride.

But for me, there was one scene that stood out more than the rest. And it was when Papale’s father spoke to his son about why he was so critical of him trying to make the team. Reminding him of the “touchdown” that got him through all the times he was down and out – the famous Steve Van Buren touchdown in 1948 that led the Eagles over the Chicago Cardinals to win their very first NFL title.

“You know how I used to tell you about Van Buren scoring that touchdown back in ’48? … That touchdown got me through 30 years at that factory. Got me through all those times your mother being sick. When I told you not to get your hopes up… didn’t mean that I wasn’t.”

You see, sports matter. More than the average fan could ever understand. They carry us through the best and worst of times.

So am I ever critical of the Grizzlies? Yes.

Are Cleveland fans critical of the Browns? Yeah.

Are Atlanta fans critical of the Braves? You bet your ass they are.

And guess what? That’s good. It might even be healthy.

It’s important to hold your team to a standard of greatness. T0 stay with them and love when they fall short of that greatness, when they disappoint you. Because you will be disappointed – probably more often than not.

It’s also important to question every move your team makes. To hold them against what you believe, what you think, and what you feel is best. To speak out when you feel they are headed in the wrong direction, and to praise them when you feel they do what is right.

Because if your team doesn’t leave you wanting and hoping for more, heartbroken after every loss and questioning every motive, then you’re not nearly as invested as you should be.

So trust me, when the Grizzlies win an NBA title, I’ll write the shiniest, happiest article on the face of the planet. But until then, I’ll go on holding this team to the only standard I’ll ever accept: Greatness. And I firmly believe they will get there.

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