Keeping “The Secret”

(The following was a post written several days ago in the span of a few minutes – by someone who was literally in an abandoned shack, on only his mobile phone. Initially saved as a draft, and subsequently neglected over time, consider this one part of our “B-Sides and Rarities” collection.)

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Allow me to first make a confession *cough* excuse about my first entry for hoopsididitagain.  I am currently writing in a tiny shack with no electricity and no Internet connection.  This article is unequivocally, indubitably, unforgivingly, consequently, straight out of that thing sloshing around in my skull as opposed to the vast knowledge of the Interweb.  And if you’re a perceptive person, I have, according to the little blue – make that gray, fuck now it’s white – battery on my computer screen, about 27 minutes to punch out the most incredible piece of wanna-be “journalism” in the history of the next 27 minutes.

I love the Memphis Grizzlies.  No longer the punchline of the NBA playoffs (zero wins in twelve tries), the 2010-11 group finally cleared a hurdle on April 17th, beating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series.  An eight seed beating a one, while rare, is not impossible, or even improbable due to the fact that many thought the fading Spurs were in a position to be toppled by the upstart Grizzlies.  It is the current 2-1 lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder, however, that have me believing Memphis may have figured out “The Secret.”

Outside of the Grizz, this season’s playoffs already feature enough intriguing storylines to make any sports journalist cream his pants.  You have an MVP point guard on a mediocre Bulls team willing them to victory after victory.  Then there’s the bafflingly not-former-MVP Chris Paul trying, and failing, to accomplish the same thing with the Hornets.  Inconsistent play plagued him all season, why expect any different now?  They still took two of six from the Lakers who should have overwhelmed them from the opening tip, but now L.A. has subsequently been obliterated in four games by the Dallas Mavericks. It would have been fun being in the locker room after games 3 and 4 while Phil Jackson was explaining to the two time defending champs they keep getting outplayed by this guy:

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A more recent photo:

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These stories are only the tip of the penis when it comes to this year’s playoffs. You have the underwhelming Knicks and Magic, New “Big Three” versus (literally) “Old” Big Three, and the youthful Thunder trying to prove they are legit contenders, which brings us back to the Memphis Grizzlies.

According to Isiah Thomas via the Sports Guy Bill Simmons, The Secret is the key to winning championships. The San Antonio Spurs had it, the L.A. Lakers had it, the Boston Celtics certainly had it, and even his Detroit Pistons had it. The Secret emphasizes a unit who doesn’t look at stats, cedes playing time to better players, and has stricken the words “me” and “I” from their lexicon. No playoff team exemplifies this theory – one inexplicably ignored by the ex-player, ex-GM, ex-NBA coach who coined it – better than the current Memphis squad.

How can a team featuring Zach Randolph, once called Stat-Bo in reference to his nickname Z-Bo, be considered a qualifier for this year’s Secret? A lot has to do with Randolph finally growing up. Getting involved in the Memphis community and realizing he was on a path to become the first player to ever play for all 30 teams lent to creating a Z-Bo that passed out of double teams instead of forcing shots, became a more willing passer all around, and refined his defensive game.

But being the stand-out Grizzly on the stat sheets is about as close to bringing Memphis a championship as the paper cut you get from holding a stat sheet. (Paper went out with powdered wigs.) This team features an improved Marc “not a Pau-ssy” Gasol, gifted Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, defensive specialist Shane Battier, and playmakers Sam Young, Tony Allen, Darrell Arthur, and Hamed Haddadi.

“Who?” you say. The last four are The Secret. All split minutes, all know their role, all have one word scrolling on the ticker in their heads, winning. Charlie Sheen has infected the 2010-2011 Memphis Grizzlies.

Not a super team (If you consider a “team” three or less), not a group of old guys featuring Rajon Rondo playing with the only arm that is not fucking destroyed. They weren’t in the desperate position to follow the philosophy of the Cobra Kai dojo.

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Elbow to the ribcage is sweep the leg, update 1.1.2.

Most of all they certainly aren’t a team that reads articles about how fucking awesome they are for playing as team. No, these guys just spend their time coming back from 21 down against an opponent they make look lost on the hardwood sometimes and are quietly zipping the lips of those who say an 8 seed isn’t good enough to make the finals.

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