When I first moved to Vancouver a decade ago, about the only thing that reminded me of the U.S. was the Grizzlies. Between the metric system, Celsius, an obsession with America’s ignorance of Canadian culture (whatever that is), and all the other bizarro-world qualities of Canada, at least I had the NBA. I was even fortunate enough to glom onto a press pass for a couple of years, enabling me to see Bryant Reeves far closer than any man should.
With the departure of Stromile Swift to Houston, the only remaining piece of Vancouver Grizzlies’ basketball has left the franchise. Yes, there are remnants of Vancouver scattered throughout the league – a Bibby here, an Abdur-Rahim there – but they left the franchise long ago. Stro was the last link to a dismal franchise, and now even he has left the ship.
I suppose I may be the only person bemoaning Stromile Swift’s presence – or, rather, the lack thereof – on Memphis’ roster. In our world, we quickly move from what was to what is, and, besides, nostalgia is a vain emotion at best.
Still, I miss the Grizzlies. In a way, rooting for the Grizzlies in Vancouver was like rooting for the Mariners in the 1980s – another fruitless passion of mine. Neither team rewarded us with many victories, but there was something to be said for staying with your team despite the ridicule you faced from other, much-wiser fans (in fact, if you replace the Seahawks with the Canucks, you’d get a pretty good picture of what it was like). Just as I vividly remember being mocked for rooting for Phil Bradley and Mike Moore, I just as vividly remember the joy in seeing Shareef post another 20-10 game, or Big Country putting on his bi-monthly displays of skill.
In any event, the Sonics play the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis. Somewhere, Grant Long and Cherokee Parks are watching.
SPREAD: Grizzlies by 4 1/2
The Griz turned in a good-ol’ fashioned barn-burner the other night against the Cavs, winning 113-106 behind 29 from Sr. Gasol. Like Seattle, Memphis will be spending much of the next two weeks on the road, so they’ve got high motivation to grab a win here. That said, the Sonics played well against the Griz last year, taking both games in Memphis. Add in the Grizzlies’ weak rebounding and the Sonics’ strong showing in that department, and you’re looking at what could be a very winnable game for Seattle.
PICK: Seattle 102 – Grizzlies 96
PETE’S RECORD: 0-1