The Peterson Principle 5/3/11

Tim Peterson

The Memphis Grizzlies won a playoff series? What’s next? The Washington Generals beat the Harlem Globetrotters? The Clippers win the NBA title? Some things just aren’t supposed to happen.

When of the think of the Grizzlies I think of Vancouver, Brian Winters and Big Country Reeves. I think of Brian Hill and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. I think of Stevie Francis, the second overall pick in the 1999 draft refusing to play for the team and being dealt to the Rockets.

It didn’t work in Canada and then came the move to Memphis in 2001 and the arrival of Pau Gasol. Soon after, at the conclusion of the 2001-’02 season, former Laker General Manager Jerry West was hired and the feeling was a resurgence was sure to follow. West hired Hubie Brown during the 2002-’03 season and Memphis made the playoffs the following year with West receiving the NBA executive of the Year award for ’03-’04.

But after all this was the Grizzlies and things returned to normal in ’06-’07 as Memphis went 22-60 and West stepped down.

Brown was long gone and neither Mike Fratello nor somebody named Tony Barone Sr. could turn the team around. Players came and went, Bonzi Wells, Stromille Swift, James Posey and Jason Williams, but the Grizz was right back where it started – having never won a playoff game.

Gasol was dealt to the Lakers on February 1, 2008 ending his era. One of the players Memphis received in return was his brother Marc Gasol. Fast forward to 2011 and Lionel Hollins is the coach for the second time and Memphis sneaks into the playoffs as the number eight seed to face the almighty San Antonio Spurs.

Gasol (Marc) is still there and now so is Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Shane Battier (for the second time) and the Grizzlies are pretty good. Winning a game might not have been out of the question but a series victory over the number one seeded Spurs didn’t seem to be in the cards.

Well it was and with Memphis beating Oklahoma City Sunday in game one of the second round playoff series anything now seems possible. Actually I still like OKC in the series but yes, the Grizzlies are a good story.  

A Gasol (Marc) vs. Gasol (Pau) matchup in the Western Conference Finals would be fun.

Didn’t Zach Randolph used to play for the Clippers? If he’s great now isn’t that a given? Will the first playoff game Blake Griffin wins be as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder?

People forget that the Spurs haven’t won a title in four years. This isn’t the same team. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli have all gotten old at the same time. After watching Memphis thoroughly beat them, (not squeak by but throttle them), the Spurs time has come. They will be facing many questions in the off season.

If you listen to sports talk radio in Los Angeles, namely ESPN 710 AM, the Laker flagship station, everything is all right with the Lakers after they finally dispatched New Orleans in six games. They continue to fawn over Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau and company and say that the Hornets series was a mere bump in the road on the way to another title.

Some have even suggested that Dallas will go down easily in five games; that the New Orleans series was simply a wake up call. Really? The Lakers couldn’t put away a team that was missing power forward David West, arguably its second best player. They struggled to contain Chris Paul, and at times they made Carl Landry look like an All Star.

If they struggle to beat New Orleans, how will they match up against Oklahoma City or even Dallas?

Or for that matter that team that could never win a playoff series? I’d go with the Grizzlies.

That’s my principle.

Tim can be reached at

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