by Kevin Lipe
I'd be lying if I said that the prospect of taking the reins of Beyond the Arc wasn't a little intimidating. I'm not Chris Herrington, and it'd be foolish for me to try to be. Beyond the Arc is an important voice in the Grizzlies world. I'm humbled to be the guy chosen to take the reins, and it's my intention to continue what I see as the tradition on Beyond the Arc: smart, level-headed writing about the Grizzlies, from the perspective of a guy who loves Memphis and loves NBA basketball.
A quick autobiographical blurb for everybody who isn't familiar with my work over the last two seasons at SB Nation's Grizzly Bear Blues: I'm a native Memphian, and I've been a Grizzlies fan since they came to town. My literary tendencies are a little more Lester Bangs than beat writer. I once sold Brian Cardinal an iPod when I worked at the Apple Store. I think the NBA is a fascinating self-contained universe full of characters and possibilities that no other sport can offer, and I think the NBA and the vibe—the soul—of Memphis do fascinating, original things to each other when they collide.
Besides the obvious purposes of self-introduction, I think there's an interesting parallel here: Beyond the Arc is filled with fresh faces, and so are the Grizzlies. New coach1. Almost completely new bench. An ownership group fresh off its first offseason in control of the team—and fresh on the heels of being ranked as the #1 franchise in all of pro sports by ESPN The Magazine. It's sort of a weird situation, isn't it? Last year was the most successful season in the history of the franchise, and yet now, four months later, everything is different and there are questions about all of it and everything is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.
We're going to find out a lot of things about these Grizzlies (and probably some things about ourselves as fans) over the course of the 2013-2014 season, and that finding-out process begins today at Media Day as the team prepares for its training camp in Nashville2.
Of course, it's media day, not a Joni Mitchell record, so I'm not expecting any groundbreaking revelations. I'm expecting to hear that one player or another is "in the best shape of his career" and that each and every man on the roster "really worked hard this offseason to improve (some aspect of his game)." Maybe a player lost ten pounds of weight or added ten pounds of muscle. It's always the same going into training camp: everybody is ready, everybody likes each other, everybody believes in the new coach, everybody is ready to make some noise this year and try to bring an honest-to-God NBA championship home to the (We Don't) Bluff City for the first time.
Not to say that Media Day is pointless, but it's not going to answer any of the real questions that surround the Grizzlies this season:
Those are just some of the questions floating around the Grizz as they head into training camp. Everyone expects them to be good again this year, but it remains to be seen how good. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we really start to get a picture of who this team is, and how they'll look on the floor. With a much-improved bench, they're clearly in a position to improve on last year's success, but the Western Conference has gotten better around them, and the race for the top spots is going to be tighter than ever.
In short, things are going to be different, both here at Beyond the Arc and down on Beale St. at the Grindhouse. No matter what the outcome, it's going to be an interesting season, no doubt about it. I hope you'll be along for the ride.