Written by Katee Forbis
What pauses life for you? What is the one thing that no matter what’s going on, you can turn to and escape from reality for a bit? We all need an escape. We all need something that takes us out of our current situation for a little while. We need that thing that makes our blood rush and our heart beat fast.
For me, that thing is the Memphis Grizzlies, Memphis’ NBA franchise. And it’s that time of year again. The Memphis Grizzlies are the Western Conference 7th seed in the NBA playoffs. For me, the NBA playoffs rank right up there with Christmas when it comes to my favorite times of the year. I don’t make plans for mid-April through early June. Most of my friends don’t even ask me to do anything anymore because they know it’s pointless. There’s been no indication based on the Grizzlies performance this year (or most years) that this is a team that’s going to make it to the NBA Finals or win the championship. The logical side of me understands this, and my friends and family often point this out with, “Why can’t you make plans for the end of May? The Grizzlies suck this year.” It’s not that I’m in denial. I am fully aware of the current state of this team and what I think they are capable of.
But then there’s the super fan in me. And the super fan in me cannot be ignored. The super fan in me always believes we’re going all the way. The super fan in me believes, in a child-like fashion, that somehow, THIS will be the year. Every year during the playoffs, there’s a war going on in my head. A war between reality and a fantasy that I can’t seem to shake. I don’t ever talk about this fantasy, but this is a site for nerds, right? And I am definitely a nerd. So, I feel safe here.
The fantasy goes like this: I’m courtside, with the Memphis Grizzlies flag that I often bring to playoff games. The buzzer sounds, and I’m celebrating in tears as the confetti is raining down. In this fantasy, the Grizzlies have won the championship. The city has waited for this for so long, and it’s finally happened. In this fantasy, they are blaring “We Are The Champions” by Queen through the sound system. I’m looking around and everyone is in a state of bliss. People are waving growl towels, singing, crying, jumping up and down, hugging, and taking pictures. They want to remember the moment. They want to remember this feeling. And I’m taking it all in. I’m grateful for the chance to be here for this moment. In my fantasy, it all finally happens. I watch the players hug each other and I see the tears in their eyes. The Memphis Grizzlies finally did it. They did it. We did it.
Snap back to reality and I’m actually watching a game in the nosebleed section and a Grizzlies player has just dribbled the basketball off of his foot. My reality is very different from my fantasy. In my fantasy world, I don’t question how in the hell I got court-side seats to an NBA Finals game, or that this seems like something out of a corny Disney movie. It’s my fantasy, and in my fantasy, this is how it all plays out. This fantasy has gotten me through a lot of bad times with this team. It’s also gotten me through a lot of bad times in my own life. The odds are that it will never play out in this way. I know this. And it’s why I rarely share this scenario with anyone. Because I know it’s ridiculous! And yet, I recreate it constantly in my head. I used to roll my eyes at my own imagination for coming up with this outlandish stuff.
As kids, I think we all have these kinds of dreams and fantasies. But as real life settles in, and we grow into adults, we bury those dreams and fantasies underneath sarcasm, disappointment, and resentment. At some point, we decide that dreams and fantasies are for idiots and children. And as mature adults, we are far too realistic for such simplistic scenarios that will never happen. It’s silly and frivolous. I was the same way. But not anymore. This year, I’ve decided to just enjoy the fantasy. I won’t beat myself up for it or drown it in sarcasm. I will just enjoy it. Because I’ve tried to the whole cynical adult thing, and it did nothing productive for me anyway. What do I gain by denying myself this fantasy? Am I less disappointed? Not really. Am I happier? Definitely not.
The Memphis Grizzlies may not win the championship this year. They may not even win a series. But anything can happen. And just typing that gets my adrenaline going. Anything can happen. And until it happens, when I’m down or had a hard day, I’ll keep playing “We Are the Champions” as loud as I can and dreaming of the day where it’s no longer a fantasy. And I invite all the other Grizzlies fans out there to do the same. Believe Memphis. Because one day, we’ll be glad that we did. Until then, no matter how silly or frivolous people tell us it is, we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.