This article originally appeared in Grizzly Bear Blues, an SB Nation Affiliate Site
Around this time last year the Memphis Grizzlies had the best
record in the NBA, bearing to the nation the "grit and grind"
mentality that has seeped deep into the DNA of this great city. This season the
wins and losses are different, but the story of the Memphis Grizzlies is still
the story of their fans and of their city. This Grizzlies squad has stuck with
us and we must stick with them.
I teach in South Memphis, home to some of the most impoverished
zip codes in the country. Plastered all over my classroom wall are giant
cutouts of Tony Allen's head. A poster on one wall totes our classroom goal:
"Grind ‘til you Shine." It’s a slogan taken from a mural by local street artist Brandon Marshall that
occupies an external wall of a nearby community development center. Students in
my classroom write shout outs to each other for things like tenacity on small
cutouts of Grizzlies players that are then posted on another wall of my
classroom that we’ve nicknamed the "Grindhouse." Student work
that’s deemed excellent is posted on the "Grit" wall. My school has a
strictly enforced uniform policy, but if you show good behavior throughout the
week, you’re allowed to wear your Grizz gear on Friday.
Believing in this team is a part of believing in Memphis. It’s the belief that with enough heart we can prevail no matter where we currently stand.
Last year I taught at a title 1 public school and was shocked to discover that Coach Dave Joerger’s children were enrolled. Private prep schools were bypassed to have his children integrated into the socioeconomically diverse community in which they live. I talked with Coach Joerger at 5th grade dances and recitals. I came to him as an avid Grizz fan, accustomed to nose bleed tickets, jabbering my novice post game analyses. Nonetheless, Coach Joerger always wielded passion and candor in our conversations. For our city, Coach Joerger, and the Grizzlies, the power is in the connection, common identity, and common goals – status is irrelevant. Whatever the win-loss count, we are connected in this journey.