The Memphis Grizzlies Want All the Smoke
By Liam McKeone
The Memphis Grizzlies, as things currently stand, are far and away the most fun team in basketball for myriad reasons. They are the surprise of the 2021-22 season, far better far sooner than anyone expected. They're led by Ja Morant, a lightening bolt in the form of a basketball player, capable of creating an unbelievable highlight in the blink of an eye.
But more than anything, this team is not afraid of anybody. They have the unquantifiable yet undeniable swagger of a young team that's kicking down the door and taking no prisoners.
That's a cold quote, but even colder was Desmond Bane's when the Grizzlies played the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN's Tim MacMahon detailed one moment during Memphis' blowout win over the 2020 champs on their home court, when Bane sunk a three as LeBron James jogged back in transition.
A minute later, a Lakers turnover leads to another fast break for the Grizzlies. Bane swishes a trailer 3 -- wide open because James is slow getting back in transition -- and lets the all-time great know about it:
"Them footsteps ain't scaring nobody."
This is LeBron James we're talking about. Nobody has had the gall to say something like that to The King and back it up with dominant play since his pre-Heat days. Bane was five years old when LeBron was first drafted. Imagine, for a moment, watching LeBron win championships while you're in middle school, making it to the league and accomplishing your dream, getting the chance to play against the guy you've watched dominate for your entire life, then talking trash while beating his team by double-digits.
With a young team like these Grizzlies, the common phrase that often gets tossed around is "why not us?" The 2013-14 Warriors had that kind of vibe. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shot their way into the national consciousness with joy, playing free. That's not what this Memphis team is. They're playing with a snarl. Instead of "why not us?", the Grizzlies are demanding to know who will stop them.
So far this year, it's been a tall task.
The Grizzlies exist in a unique point in time. They're surprising everybody right now but expectations shift quickly. Not everything will be sunshine and rainbows, alley-oops and fast-break dunks. But right now, they're all that and more.