After shocking the Spurs in a 6 game no doubt about it slug-fest, the Grizzlies move on to the second round for the first time — where they’ll face another upstart team that looked just as lost as Memphis only two years ago
On February 1, 2008 the Grizzlies made what is now considered one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history. It took them from first round punching bag, to bottom feeder and laughingstock: the team that gave away Pau Gasol and helped the Lakers form their latest dynasty.
The Grizz did salvage Pau’s brother Marc in that deal.
On July 2, 2009 Memphis made another move: one that for the casual sports fan, probably flew right under the radar. In a straight up swap the Grizz dealt Quentin Richardson for a crazy headcase with a bloated contract. That man’s name: Zach Randolph.
Many at the time dismissed the deal as a desperate attempt to get back some low post scoring punch. Most praised the Clippers for getting Randolph’s contract off their books. No one thought that it was the missing piece to a team that looked like it was going nowhere.
Randolph blossomed into a star, kept his oversized ego in check, and the Grizzlies, yes the freaking Memphis Grizzlies, are moving on to the second round — dispatching the old guard San Antonio Spurs in six games in a stunning display of youth, talent, and toughness.
The same team that didn’t have a clue left just knocked the number 1 seed Spurs — the team that had the best record for much of the season — right out of the post-season. Sayonara Spurs. Hello Z Bo.
The same team that didn’t have toughness, just physically imposed their will on the four time champs.
The same team that didn’t have a plan is now more talented than San Antonio. Tougher than San Antonio. And according to my scorecard: better than San Antonio.
It’s a shocking turn of events: the non-nonchalant, never on national TV Grizzlies absolutely outplaying and outsmarting the wily veteran laden Spurs, setting up the most unlikely of second round series: Memphis versus Oklahoma City. It’s the battle of the relocaters. The same Vancouver team that once was under consideration for contraction versus the Zombie Sonics. Just two years ago the Grizzlies won 24 games. OKC 23. Now they’re set to square off in the series with a sense of humor: winner likely getting the Lakers in the Conference Finals.
Talk about a comeback story. Talk about two teams who did actually have a plan.
And not only is GM Chris Wallace off the hook: he’s actually laughing all the way to the bank — his team doing what no one could have foreseen just two Springs ago.
Four more wins and he could get a crack at the same team that made him so infamously famous for all the wrong reasons.
Now that would be a story.
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