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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Our years of devotion to the (Hang Time) Memphis Grizzlies paid off handsomely last season in a magical run to the Western Conference semifinals.
While most of the so-called punditry were busy making fun of that unwavering allegiance to a team that had never won a playoff game, let alone a series before last spring, we were hard at work trying to convince anyone willing to see what we saw.
Now that the Grizzlies have taken a bite out of the league, their owner (the real one, Michael Heisley, we just serve as his proxy here at the hideout on a daily basis) is setting his aim a little higher than just making noise in the playoffs.
Heisley didn’t hide his goals in an interview with Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal, stating that he fully expects the Grizzlies to contend for championships in the immediate future with the one of the best young rosters in the league. You wish your owner talked like this:
Q. You recently said for the first time publicly that you’re committed to winning a championship. How close are you to winning an NBA title?
A. The players are going to determine how close we are. I can honestly tell you that I think we have a real chance over the next two or three years to win the NBA championship if we get some breaks and a couple of our players develop into their potential. We’ve got a few years where Zach (Randolph) will be playing at a high level. Rudy (Gay) is young and just beginning to come into his own. (Mike) Conley is young. We’ve got a team that’s young and they like each other. The chemistry in the locker room is good. I’m not sure what is going to happen, but I feel like we have a good, deep team. It isn’t like we have five players and then we drop off a cliff. I’m not telling you we’ll win a championship but I’m saying I won’t be surprised if we make a big run for it. That’s honest. I haven’t gone around saying that my whole career in Memphis. I feel like we have something special.
You have to remember, when the Grizzlies knocked off the San Antonio Spurs and then took the Oklahoma City Thunder to the limit in a thrilling series, they did so without Gay in uniform. Randolph, Marc Gasol, Conley and Tony Allen led the charge then, with plenty of help from a solid supporting cast that included inspired effort from O.J. Mayo.
If Lionel Hollins can harness what this team did in the playoffs and unleash it during this abbreviated season, there could be more postseason fury in store for teams facing these Grizzlies.
And while the championship talk from Heisley is probably a little early, we admire his unbridled ambition. Not every owner is willing to speak so clearly about such things.